In 2012 I began making ex-voto tokens. Little hearts with messages on both sides. The front had the title of the category of the message, the back, the individual message. Each message is a prayer for something I wanted or something I got and was grateful for. Mainly, the prayers covered issues that weighed heavily on my heart that were too big for me to solve. In creating them and their containers, I hoped to take their burden off me and kiss them up to God.
One very unexpected category that came up almost on its own was GO AWAY. The tokens practically made themselves. I figured, what or who is on Earth right now, that if they only went away, the world would be a much better place? I banged out the messages then set out to envision the urn to put them in. Unfortunately that urn took an awful lot of time to execute. I had to figure out the design, the engineering, the science and the lighting. It took 2 years. I made the urn in 2014. I thought that by then those issues going into that urn would be stale and irrelevant and even better resolved by that time.
Little did I know! Inside the GO AWAY URN, from 2012 are:
Newt Gingrich, Election campaign super pacs, Church in politics politics in church, Obama Birthers, Donald Trump, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Chris Christie, Rudy Giuliani, Julian Asange, Dominique Strauss Kahn, Anonymous Hackers, Al Qaeda, Taliban, Suicide Bombers, Christian Conservatives, Ultra Liberals, Violent Video Games, Facebook as a replacement for social interaction, Peta, Israeli Palestinian conflict, E.L.F., Tea Partiers, N.R.A., Political obstructionists, Radical Muslim Extremists, Health insurance companies, Snooki and Religious Extremists
Aside from Snooki, not much has gone away, and not only are not much in the jar are resolved, those in bold are not only still around but about to run our country. Sigh.
That same year (2014,) I decided to comment on how social media was influencing people, especially politicians, especially the governor of my fair state, Chris Christie. I made ECHO CHAMBER.
This piece is an illustration of how certain politicians can surround themselves only with people who agree with them. They hold “town hall meetings” where the audience is hand picked in advance, and if anyone else attends and expresses an alternate point of view they are rudely heckled and shouted down, if allowed to stay and speak at all. It also is a reflection of how social media has put us into gorgeous little boxes of our own points of view; where algorithms hand pick what we see and digest as “news.” All of our values are constantly reverberated back at us. That was disturbing to me back then and now that hacking and fake news has been revealed as influencing this last election it is more relevant than ever.
I have had the extreme privilege of having these 2 pieces included in an on-line show, OUTRAGE: Artists Respond to Trump, curated by artist/activist Patricia Dahlman. When I reviewed the works in the show I wondered how mine wound up among such amazing and provocative artwork by such incredible artists. I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks my style is a little out of place, bordering on the side of elegance. But like writer Flannery O’Conner, I try to bring weighty and distateful subjects to my viewer gently through beauty or humor. Once they approach my work I then clobber them with the message.
Please take a look a the works in the show. They truly are amazing. They express my every anger and every fear. I am astounded and beyond impressed that these artists were able to turn out this phenomenal work in such a short time. Me? I’m still processing my feelings, unable to express most of them. I’m abashed, grateful and very dismayed that my 2 pieces, made years ago are relevant to this tragic turn of events in our collective history.