Being a Light for The Ghostlight Project at The Public Theater

img_20170119_175031_112

It takes a long time for me to process momentous issues. I do not leap into action easily, and when I do it’s usually to jump to the wrong conclusions or put my foot where it does not belong. I’m over feeling guilty about not going to Saturday’s Womens March in Washington. I am not a large herd animal. I would be a liability. I would be the one suffering from a panic attack who has to be given oxygen and carried off in an ambulance from getting extreme claustrophobia standing shoulder to shoulder with a million people. I prefer to hide in my studio and throw clay around and pray for the safety and strength of my sisters on the front line doing the dirty work. Yes I am a coward in this regard.

But my small still voice told me to go to The Public Theater to Be A Light and participate in The Ghostlight Project.

20170119_115517

I downloaded my sign, printed it out and pondered what I am and what I fight for. In this regard I am an American Patriot, someone willing to defend their country. I really don’t want to fight. I’d rather work with, but for the purpose of this exercise I decided I’d fight for dialogue and compromise.

The way I see it, we as the great nation of The United States of America have steered off course and are headed for very dangerous waters. We’ve stopped listening to each other. We only surround ourselves with people who agree with us. We have no desire or energy to have a dialogue, find the common ground then work to arrive at it, i.e. compromise. These days we are all or nothing. We are no longer united. The only way we’re going to turn this ship around is to grab the wheel and pull together.

Call me a dreamer. Accuse me of hallucinating, but this is what the small still voice is telling me.

And that’s why I took my little sign and my flashlight and stood on the steps of the Public Theater, and sang a song and wiped my eyes and left my sign pinned to a board along with the hopes and dreams of strangers.

20170119_172232

And sang a song

And listened to a speech

And hung up my sign

20170119_174441

OUTRAGE: Artists Respond to Trump

go_away__0017

GO AWAY

 

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.

go_away_0007

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.

lgwestheimer_8_echochamber011

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.