The painting series, Such Is Life, I’ll be showing at Columbia City Gallery this April comes from musings that have been with me for quite a while. Unlike my Personal Prayer Flag or Palimpsest series, though, the concept is more complex.
I’ve been thinking about what it means to be a human being on this planet, specifically when it comes to relating to others. As I was painting I kept in mind the fact that we tend to connect with people similar to ourselves, and far too often implicitly fear those who are different.
This past year or so I’ve been thinking more about race. A friend of mine had a horrible experience which, I believe, was a result of the color of her skin. I began thinking, talking, and reading more about race, as well as considering my own white privilege. I’m not going to create a meaningful relationship with someone of a different race if I’m in denial of how my racial privilege affects my life and theirs.
When I did my Gender Personal project (www.genderpersonal.org), I spent over a year exploring the concept of gender identity, and an important way for me to process these new ideas has been through my art. I believe that the personal expression of art allows us to tinker with, delve into, and form connections with new concepts.
Another influence on this latest series has been the book Lost Connections by Johann Hari. Johann writes about the huge number of people worldwide, who suffer from anxiety and depression.
After years of research and traveling the globe, he has come to believe that this is related to our disconnection from each other, from ourselves, from meaningful work, and from the natural world. His work is all about rediscovering and rekindling those connections. No matter who we are or what our life experiences have been, we crave and need these connections to find meaning in our lives.
I’m also reading The Book of Joy by Douglas Abrams, which is a presentation of discussions between the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. These wise men also maintain that it is connection with others that underlies a deep feeling of joy in our lives, especially when this includes compassion and support.
Such Is Life will be at Columbia City Gallery from April 3rd through May 12th, and I invite you to come by and see it. The opening reception is Saturday April 6th, 5:00 – 7:00.
Here’s a list of books which inspired me as I was creating this series:
Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – And the Unexpected Solutions by Johann Hari
The Book of Joy, a presentation of discussions between the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu, written by Douglas Abrams
Things that Make White People Uncomfortable by Michael Bennett
What Does it Mean to Be White: Developing White Racial Literacy by Robin DiAngelo