Quantum Identity III: False Dichotomies and Walls that Must be Broken
Driving to San Diego from Tucson, one passes through Yuma's dunes. The wall on the border to keep migrants out is a huge black gash that just stands there ridiculously in the dunes, which have already shifted to the point where in places the wall is almost completely buried. What a waste, and another example of separation, making people take sides (literally in that case), and the results of reactionary us-versus-them mentalities. I made that drive during the summer of 2016 when there was another rash of gun violence, racial tension, and senseless police brutality. It seemed to me like the violence we keep seeing has roots in these kinds of mindsets, and that they are all related.
It also made me think of the violence we do to ourselves and our psyches when we try to partition our identities, ascribing to stereotypes, constructs, and cultural norms, and how those barriers we create in our lives - both physical barriers and mental/spiritual/emotional barriers, often fail in unforeseen ways. What of the link between disease and repressed emotions? What of the breakdown that comes after many years of ignoring or avoiding reality? What of our relationships that fracture or are destroyed by these barriers, or by the sudden breakdown of false barriers? What harm do we do to ourselves and others in myriad "us versus them" dichotomous paradigms?
On the other hand, what about the incredible healing and hope that takes place when we transcend these barriers - social, personal, physical, emotional - ALL the barriers that keep us from being who we really are in our lives and in our societies?
That's what this piece is about.
The old adage about the grass being greener is referenced by the different brushstrokes as well as by the obvious color choice, but this time the green is on the viewer's side. Is this something that needs to be protected? What about the fiery colors on the other side? Are warmth, golden richness, and vibrancy not just as valuable and beautiful? The black gash represents boundaries, punctuated by losses (opaque blood-red crystals), yet ultimately transcended and transformed as the black paint becomes replaced by rare black saguaro seeds from the Tohono O'odham saguaro harvest, which has been happening here in the desert southwest longer than there have been borders. The jewels crossing at the border rupture go both ways, showing the benefits of transcending and breaking borders and barriers - in all ways. And yet the red honors and acknowledges the pain and damage that can happen there too.
Finally, the platitude, “SMILE BECAUSE YOU CAN” had been stenciled on the discarded canvas, and was part of a set of lavender canvases with white “uplifting” words stenciled on them. In this context, though, the uplifting words are transformed into a biting reminder of privilege.
$975.00 16" x 12"