My multi-year “Sanctuary” project incorporates drawing, painting, sculpture and assemblage in a response to refugees forced from their homes because of violence and climate change. It is motivated partly by immigrants in my family who have stories of survival. Now when I see desperate families, especially refugees, my response is personal.
I want viewers to experience an intimate sense of each individual. The detailed figures drawn in charcoal invite viewers to lean in close. Throughout, I use re-purposed materials such as coffee bean burlap sacks – no one and nothing is without value.
The subject is tragically current with the refugees in Ukraine. But “Sanctuary” began years earlier with my visceral reaction to migrant children torn from their parents at the U.S./Mexico border. I responded with life-size drawings with sculptural elements draped ceiling to floor behind a chain link fence. Next, I crafted symbolic rafts that escape from a mural across the gallery floor. Finally, the “Sanctuary” installation arrived at shelters, free-standing sculptures that culminate the journey.
After three years in development, “Sanctuary” received individual artist grants from Vibrant Cities, Mozaik Philanthropy, and Repaint History. In 2021, “Sanctuary” garnered praise like this from art critic Genie Davis, published in Art and Cake: “This is a passion project for the artist and it is a fierce, galvanizing, heartbreaking one … an awe-inspiring experience.”
Now I am expanding “Sanctuary” to a graphic novel, “Bearing Witness.” Currently in progress, 400 pages of drawings, paintings and writing invite viewers to delve beyond statistics into the beauty of these lives.