Now come the men in this installation
carrying their children
This father will kneel on the gallery floor,
baggage on his back,
enfolding his child…
…both of them screaming.
His hands clutch the baby
as its hand grabs onto him.
His watch stopped at 5:59
when the guards took away his child…
…who dropped this toy dog.
The next man’s story is in his face
(drawn in charcoal and pastel on raw canvas
like most figures in this series).
He carries his daughter
wrapped in one of the burlap bags
used throughout this installation.
She’s cradled in his hands.
Her slim fingers hold the rough blanket
as if it might protect her
But at the bottom of the canvas
he stands behind a barrier
of jagged metal wires.
Will he find a way to bring her through
or is he handing her over
for someone else to take
When I saw these giant coffee bean bags
on “Artists Trading” at ShoeboxPR
I knew their texture could unite
the figures seeking sanctuary.
(Thank you, Virginia Broersma)
The impact will build as figures amass,
2 or 3 per month until summer.
In this one, a bean bag becomes
a basket carrying a child.
I wanted the woman to have dignity,
resolve, a way forward…
So I gave her a cellphone.
(This detail also shows her dress
made of 2 dozen canvas pleats.)
The emotional heart is the baby
peeking out to a place
that might not welcome them.
Each piece is around 7 feet tall,
too big to photograph indoors,
so this one is on my backyard fence.
(The streaks are light coming through.)
The woman’s face – charcoal and pastel –
has a gentleness that belies her journey.
Combining drawing and pastel
allows the raw linen texture to show.
With one hand the child holds on to his mother…
…while the other hand, roped to the bag,
clutches a toy bunny.
Here is the emotional heart of this piece.
A ray of sun streamed over the fence
to guide them.
Please join me for a year-long journey
to “Sanctuary,” my 2019 series.
This one is different.
Previous shows had individual pieces.
Now a single 40-foot installation
will arise from many components.
Refugees seeking sanctuary compel this work.
The 2 and 3-dimensional figures
with their rough harvest sacks
will extend from the wall
on canvas draped ceiling to floor.
Moving along the wall,
the effect is immersion
as witnesses to the journey,
and also as seekers
as we walk beside the travelers.
The installation will hang in layers.
Furthest back are small silhouettes
peeking out at the top.
In front on the bottom
are the largest figures like
“Meditation on a Bird’s Nest.”
Each month I’ll post more
as they evolve to 20 or more figures
each carrying their valuables
— a honeycomb, a nest, a doll, a bowl –
to wherever they will find sanctuary.
Artifacts of Grace
Aug. 28 through Sept. 22
Opening Reception: Sat., Sept. 1 from 6 to 9 PM
Artists Panel: Sat., Sept. 15 at 3 PM
String Quartet featuring Raya Yarbrough: Friday, Sept. 21 at 7 PM
Gallery Hours: Tues. through Sat. 11 AM to 5 PM
“Artifacts of Grace” will install Aug. 27
and the show opens the next day.
If you’ve followed my blog about making these
please come see them live.
Thank you to all the valued professionals
who help make my shows happen every year.
Kristine Schomaker (firstname.lastname@example.org),
my art manager — advisor – PR rep,
consulted on these works in studio visits all year.
As a curator, Kristine included me in other shows.
“In the Current” was at Blue Roof in June.
This porno peach was created for her
“Let Me Eat Cake” pop-up at POST in July.
Art critic Shana Nys Dambrot
saw the earliest 3 of this series in a preview
at MuseuMM in February.
She reminded me that the beauty of palm fronds
need significant augmentation
to develop from found objects to art.
So I went back and did “Bionic Angel”
with detailed sculpture and copper wire.
It took months before I revisited the frond shape
in “Stay With Me,”
the most complex construction in the show.
Once the work is done, it has to go on a wall…
Keith at Grayhorse Picture Framing
creates ways of hanging things by magic.
Every year Monica Nouwens and Melanie Aron
photograph my new series, no matter how reflective
What you’re reading is posted by my web-master
Ching Ching Cheng (email@example.com)
who beautifully re-designed my website this year.
All my shows are perfectly installed by
Ewan Clow at Tartan Art Services
My brilliant daughter Raya Yarbrough
composed a song cycle for this show
and will perform with a string quintet
at the gallery Friday, Sept 21 at 7 PM.
If you choose one event, come to this!
Finally I’m grateful for Rakeem Cunningham
TAG Gallery’s intrepid Director
who manages an astounding 36 solo shows per year
and keeps this immense gallery flourishing.
See you there!
STAY WITH ME
from their mother’s arms
compelled me to this work.
I’ve tried to exhibit the power
of women in this series,
aiming beyond the immediate,
but the horror at the border
hurts too much.
I dealt with this subject before —
mothers shielding their children.
I painted “Can I Protect Her?”
ten years ago, in a different world.
Though the woman worries,
draped in flag colors,
the feisty child peeks out at her future.
The triangle composition is balanced, safe.
Now in 2018 the same subject
exposes a harsher attitude.
In “We Will Survive”
the mother and child stand amidst rubble
and death – the fish skeleton –
Where do we turn?
For me, nature is a comfort.
I found this beautiful shape on the ground.
Then I noticed the outside of the frond
and painted it to reveal the hidden body.
The finished back.
The bent form has a “front”
where a child has to climb.
I tried to place anatomy in the curves
and the child’s butt fit a natural crease.
The mother has to reach over to the child
so I crafted an arm out of clay.
Their fingers almost touch but not quite.
A draft of mother’s head in clay.
I tried to catch her desperation mixed with resolve.
Her hair would be ordinary grass
because she’s a force of nature,
painted intense blue for her beauty.
Finally, mother and child
reach out to each other:
“Stay with me.”
Female nudes pervade art history
from ancient fertility icons to the “masters,”
imposing ideals of beauty.
And now time’s up.
Making an image of a female nude today
How do we want to see ourselves?
The journey to this piece began
when I found this sliver of a tree
and knew one day it had to fly.
I brushed on resin to preserve it
and waited a year before I knew
it would be a vessel.
It would have blues to reach the sky
propelled by a tail of fire colors.
A woman would ascend in it
like emerging from a shell.
NOT LIKE THIS!
Of course, sensuality can be joyful.
I made this painting “Wind at Her Back”
long ago in a simpler time.
Then in 2005 I painted this one.
The title “Not Yet Out of the Woods”
refers to the figure embedded in the panel
(see the wood grain becoming her form).
It also meant I was not yet out of the woods
after spine surgery, unable to get out of bed,
not yet free.
And what now?
What body image befits a real woman
about to soar on a giant blue frond?
The clay model (seen pinned to a wall)
is not conventionally beautiful
with heavy breasts, pot belly,
saggy butt, a stringy neck.
Painted in acrylic to match the blue
and bend to the curve.
This detail shows her power.
Here is the beauty that answers
how we want to see ourselves.
Then I realized she couldn’t just be on the wing;
she has to be of it, embedded…
So I cut off her feet.
Now she emerges from the wood…
…unpretty and powerful, about to rise.
The fifth in this series is a head trip
away from the strong singular image
to a cacophony of outrageous voices
…the way stems bend in different directions
yet make one tree.
I gathered the ones that fell
when their leaves were gone…
…and painted them…
We have to talk about pink.
Many artists avoid it. Some say pink isn’t really a color, the product of a one-night stand between red and white. Some pinks insist they are tones of red. And some go around passing for white. If most pinks went to one of those ancestry sites they’d discover they’re actually 20% blue or yellow.
Pinks have baggage. Pink was girlie in a Barbie-doll way (and underwear) until the 80s when it hung out with black and made believe it was goth. Now it’s a knitted hat with ears. This is a self-esteem issue. Blues come in many shades and each one knows it’s beautiful.
But pinks have baggage, and an artist must be aware of the repercussions.
I’m not afraid of pink.
I used it in “A Fragile Space,”
an abstract painting, 5 years ago.
To find the right pink for this chorus
I mixed Medium Magenta, Light Magenta,
a dollop of expensive Quinacridone Violet,
and spiked it with cheap Fluorescent Pink.
The ladies got faces out of clay…
…that I painted.
We each have personal reasons for speaking
so they will wear their own newspaper headlines.
I gave them fists.
I drew clenched hands before
in “Letting Go” in 2016.
But now, being gorgeous,
these ladies wear feathers
plucked from this boa.
Their fragility is an illusion, though.
A fist emerges and hands of a clock
because “Time’s Up.”
The 15 singers divide into 3 melodies:
“Vote,” “Time’s Up” and “Me Too,”
and they’re ready to sing.
This one is surprisingly personal.
It’s part nature, part metal, like me.
Steel rods and screws hold up my spine;
my elbow is formed by steel;
my teeth and eyes have elements
nature never made.
And here I am.
I didn’t expect what I’d create
when I found a fragment of a palm
that seemed like a wing,
its delicate details
inspired in flight.
I set out to find its other wing
and chose a limb that had fallen
that still lifted upwards.
You can see the copper wire starting.
I love the shimmer of copper.
In my 2017 “Sight” series
I used it in Mechanism for Prophecy.
Here, copper wire became layers of feathers.
Who is flying?
I began forming a head with clay
and a welcoming smile.
Her arms had to stretch
to become part of the wings.
But I realized this work is a meditation.
So I closed her eyes.
I painted her VanDyke brown for depth,
and highlighted her in gold.
The body combines slivers of bark
with copper wires coiled from
the spirit of her energy.
Two tiny electronics left over
from a clock I took apart
for last year’s series…
…became her earrings.
There she is, ready to rise.
Pilgrimage commemorates the Women’s March.
I wanted to simplify this great event,
both protest and celebration,
and distill the experience to its soul.
On eBay I found doll shoes
with personalities of imagined marchers.
What surface would I make for them?
We marched on city streets
so I thought of constructing towering walls.
But no, that’s not the point.
It needed something universal,
a texture that would be rough, no easy walk,
and unpredictable, more like life.
A tree contributed a chunk of heavy bark.
So I set the shoes on their journey…
…and discovered it was funny.
Ugh, this wasn’t supposed to be a joke.
Not that I’m against humor in art.
While I built this piece,
a painting of mine, “I am not a Girl!”
was in the “Bunk” show at Gallery 825.
But Pilgrimage is meant to be serious.
So I painted the shoes a rich brown
that matched the bark.
The darkness had a strong impact
as if they battled through mud.
But that’s not the truth.
Mixed with determination was joy.
The shoes needed the glow of bronze,
like statues that hail victories.
Finally, where are they going?
This trail doesn’t end
in a voting booth, raised fist, or headlines.
What is the true epiphany?
At the culmination of the journey
we are each naked.
Though we marched together,
we stand alone
at the precipice of the future
and the next step into the unknown
is up to each of us.