Take a look at these recent videos where you can view some of my work and listen to my commentary about each piece.
"Justice for All"
A discussion on the mass incarceration of minority men.
Why did I use certain elements to create this piece about our justice system and its disproportionate incarceration of our African American and Hispanic American male youths.
In the video the mask opens its mouth wider and wider to let out an unheard scream, a scream of frustration, a feeling of helplessness and loss of control of ones own destiny, a scream for help.
The mask is cast with bits of trash from our streets to represent the general feelings of worthlessness our country places on our minority youths and our poor. Until very recently, and even now, we do not discuss this subject with each other. Nor is the subject broached much on standard news programs. It’s an uncomfortable subject…. as it should be. I see this as equivalent to murder. We have CHOSEN to criminalize our kids that may need some redirection, we have CHOSEN instead to incarcerate. All in the name of ‘Safer Streets’, which gives us only a false/illusionary sense of security.
Racial Profiling….most sane people agree that its against our Constitution and doesn’t recognize the Civil Rights of all peoples. We teach our very young ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ …yet this is exactly what we are doing on a MASS SCALE. I’m glad there is movement to change this, the stop and frisk policy in my city, NYC, has been stopped. This doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still go on, it does.
As a white woman I know it would truly be insulting to my African/Hispanic American brothers and sisters to suggest I know how it feels to always have to look over ones shoulder for fear of being monitored, being persecuted just for being black or brown, to be true to ones self in the sea of other peoples expectations, to feel lesser than.
As the mouth opens you notice no tongue to talk with and no teeth to bite back with. Once these youths are in the system they have a hard time ever getting out of it. Why? ….MONEY.
The #1 reason is our country makes too much money on these people. Most of our jails have been ‘privatized’ and are now running as ‘for profit’ businesses. FOR PROFIT! There are entire towns in the mid-west that did not exist until a jail was built. Today these towns are complete microcosms, and self-sustaining as long as the jails stay full. So now; we prey on minority youth, especially those that are poor and uneducated. Talk about a Bully mentality! We are bullies in the largest most serious sense of the word. We have put money and ‘perceived’ security before a human life. We rest on the backs of African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and the poor. SHAME ON US! We have failed as a modern civilization. We are ignorant at best, but many are far worse than that. In this respect we are a shameful and hypercritical country.
And we don’t think to far ahead either, so after committing these atrocities’ where do we think these tactics will get us? If you take a youth, put him in an environment full of negative solutions and violence, label him a criminal, what do we think he will do with his life once he ‘serves his time’? We are stupid and cruel.
We handicap and punish instead of lift up and teach. We have given this person almost no chance to have a happy, productive life after jail time. WE are the thieves, we have stolen the potential from the lives of these children, we have kicked them when they were down, and we have given up on them before they even got a chance to grow up.
The Crown is made of old soles of shoes, real and costume jewelry combined. The soles again refer to the worthlessness our society places on the lives of these youths. But we don’t like to face our ugliness, so we ‘gild’ or gold leaf the soles so we can feel better about our decisions. The costume and real jewelry combined refer to the inability for one to distinguish a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ person based on looks alone. This crown represents to me the ‘sacrificial lamb’. The crowns shape also reminds one of an ‘Afro’ and a Christ-like Halo.
The Tissue Flowers represent all the tears cried by the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and lovers for their loss, for the loss of potential, for the loss of a productive individual, for the loss of another ‘citizen of the world’. The tissue wraps around the youth like a coffin, suffocating hope.
The Seeds are dry, barren, and will not grow. They needed soil, sun, water and a nurturing hand to proposer. Instead they are placed side by side in a harsh and stagnant environment.
The Video begins with young women humming the song ‘We shall overcome’ showing solidarity, pain, lost and hope that their lover, brother or father shall be released. Jail bars crashing interrupt their hums.
The Pledge of Allegiance is recited one word at a time by the targeted; and represents the fragmentation of the meaning and the arbitrary use of civil rights. This Pledge does not feel like it belongs to them, it rings shallow and untrue.
I hope this piece is strong enough to withstand lots of conversation…and action around this subject.
If this sculpture is purchased, I will be giving 1/3rd of the proceeds to an organization that will help these young people get back on their feet. And I would like to suggest, that if this sculpture were sold again, that 1/3rd of the sale would always go to an organization of help and hope.
Gary Schwartz Bushawn Shelton
Mark Crutch Jermaine Piles
Drew Devero Rashmeek Eggleston
Elina Stella ML Kinnel
Karizma Nishett Michael Samedy
Jada Cintron Gavin Nelson
Angel Castro Anthony Morley
Seth Wolfson Aundra Goodman
Andre Outpott Christopher Gutierrez
Alexander Lemirez James Williams
Raymond Rodriguez James Moore
Ronald Simmons David DeJesus