My work is rarely overtly politic, but with the reckless nationalism of a certain candidate and now the UK’s vote to exit the EU, driven by its own nationalistic impulses , I felt compelled to express my dismay with a new painting.
Hence The Siren’s Call.
The Siren’s Call
oil on panel
8 by 10″
It is another tiny painting but as is my want, I have packed it with meaning. I had hoped to capture, with my comely Siren (initially I was channeling Betsy Ross but she is as tarted up as Marie Antoinette, I cannot resist ostrich plumes) the seductive qualities of our nation (and the UK). The elusive essence of what drives disparate and desperate people to our shores to rebuild, renew and reinvent themselves.
I would NOT be here if Europe’s “trash”, my Calabrian grandfather’s folks and the Slovak’s on my grandmother’s side hadn’t been allowed entrance. David and I are researching our geneology through Ancestry. I come upon these gorgeous names of my great and great-great grandparents, hailing from shitty villages in southern Italy. We even discovered my great grandmother’s photo, I only saw her once but I recognized her immediately. And you know what? She looks Mexican! We hear all of this terrible inflammatory language directed at our southern kin and yet their struggle:to get here, to settle in and to prosper, is really the same struggle my southern Italian endured ( many folks to this day still revere the “white” northerners, another issue altogether ) . My grandfather’s people didn’t assimilate easily, language barriers were a challenge and the public disdain must have been humiliating.
Yet somehow they persevered and became part of the weave. I understand the fear of loss, a loss of perceived power, prominence and position. But it is ultimately self destructive. I’m hoping the fearful and the vitriolic come to some understanding of empathy and don’t leave those who want entry drowning in the waves as my poor little bird.
This painting started out as a relief print. That is becoming my practice more and more. And now that I have finished this painting, I think I might make yet another version of the first series, which is illustrated below.
I still hold hope that we can Pope Francis and his plea for compassion:
“Often, however, such migration gives rise to suspicion and hostility, even in ecclesial communities, prior to any knowledge of the migrants’ lives or their stories of persecution and destitution.
In such cases, suspicion and prejudice conflict with the biblical commandment of welcoming with respect and solidarity the stranger in need.”
His message on Sept. 3rd 2015 on World Day of Migrants and Refugees. With that , have a good weekend.