I've been working on a small series of watercolors to hash out ideas for my large embroidery panels. The day after the election of Trump, I sat depressed in my studio, not sure of what was to come. I think a lot of artists had one of the most intense days in the studio ever that day. I know I did. I had no desire to make anything but I knew I had to go through the motions regardless. I began drawing hash marks. When I worked as an urban planner (back before Illustrator!), we would use hash lines to color our plans and drawings. We even had a layer of lined paper that we would lay underneath as a guide. Peter Calthorpe's office devised this method to keep the drawings consistent between staff members. Well, I resorted to the old method to get back to work and suddenly, a person emerged.
I rarely include images of people in my work, I never have, even when I was a photographer. So it came as quite a shock to see this shadow emerge on its' own. So here I am now, spending several days drawing people after people.
And then I began to move it into my watercolors. And now I can see how this could move into my embroideries as well.
And then, a week later, I receive an email from a very, very important organization, one who has spoken out very loudly in the New York Times to Trump, asking me to create work for them. Well, I knew right away what I would create for them. I would make more and more of these people, these faceless, voiceless people who need someone to be there for them. To speak for them. And so I make. And all of this work I'm doing? Half of the money I make for the watercolors, the etchings and the embroideries of the Syrian Refugee Crisis will be donated as directly as possible to the Syrian Refugees. I have a lot of work ahead of me and I feel like so very little time to do it.
It looks as if something really large is in the works from Russia regarding Aleppo. There has been talk that Russia plans to attack Eastern Aleppo will full force, conveniently while everyone focuses this week on the big election in the U.S. Russia has issued a statement to leave Aleppo by last Friday night.
They promise a ceasefire but it all hinges on the militants, who have already vowed to ignore it. "The (Russian) president deems a regime when Russian air forces don't carry out strikes on eastern Aleppo as reasonable if militants don't start combat action," says Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. This could be a very trying week throughout the world.
I've been listening a lot to The New Yorker Radio Hour in the past few months but I was shocked and SO thrilled to hear they devoted this week's entire podcast to the crisis in Syria. With the coming elections, we really haven't devoted enough time to discussing what is happening in Syria. And the reason is, there are very few journalists going into Syria anymore. This is unprecedented in war reporting. This podcast is the most in-depth, knowledgeable discussion I've heard or read about Syria in years. If you really want to know what's going on and what we need to do to help, listen in.
Over the summer, my family visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. It was a powerfully moving visit. I just learned that they are bringing the voices of the Syrian people into the museum to share their experiences with the world. Here's one moving video about a photographer.
I approach making art differently than most artists. For me, I need data behind every stitch I make. Presenting hard data creatively is what motivates me in the studio every day. This blog page will share some of the data I've collected while making this series.
Many people ask me when they see this series, how I chose the images I portray? Just the other day, I was able to explain to a viewer that yes, indeed there were helicopters flying over Aleppo in response to seeing them in my piece "Before/After Night Sky of Aleppo". The Syrian regime was responsible. Many children who have fled Syria still have severe PTSD when they hear a helicopter fly overhead.