Thursday, November 15, 2018

If You Build It... New Work

If You Build It
20" x 20" Painted acrylic papers on canvas
collage/mixed media

It doesn't happen often that a piece springs fully formed, so to speak, from my mind to the canvas. I had been watching the news and of course saw the group of refugees trying to make it to the US. I was so struck by this idea, of a mass of people on the move, that it stuck with me for several days. On my walk several days later, I literally saw the finished piece in my mind. I wasn't sure though if I could do what I wanted. This is probably the first time that I have really felt as if my reach has exceeded my grasp. (For the record, I aim low every time so I won't be disappointed in myself.) I just felt that the piece could look like a kindergarten project if I wasn't careful, especially with the writing that I wanted to include and the star stickers at the edge of the seal. I really did though bring my regular skills and thoughts to bear on this one while putting it together. I worked hard to get some value and color gradations along with differing sizes. I wanted to give some depth to the piece to underscore the idea of a large group of people gathered together.  And I wanted Trump, front and center, ensconced behind his presidential seal, hiding from the humanity that is necessary in dealing with so great a problem. The piece looks simple I expect because of the basic shapes. It does say though what I want it to say.

The title of this new piece is of course taken from the movie with Kevin Costner, Field of Dreams. I liked the many ideas that the title conjured up in my mind as I was working, chief among them that a wall to stop immigrants from entering our country would only cause a greater influx of people wanting to come here; trying harder in other words. I also wanted to include some specific imagery, namely the fenced enclosures that I had seen on the news a while back. Refugees were being held (still are I believe), separated from one another by these fences and the law. It seemed awful to me. 

Immigration is a very complex issue. I admit that I don't know a lot about it. A cursory search turned up lots of information of course. I like this site here. During the course of making this piece, I read a book by John F. Kennedy, titled A Nation of Immigrants. It's a very careful and idealistic view of our nation's history of immigration. Our former president reminds us all, in a kind way, that we are a nation that was built on the idea that people could come here to seek a better life; that our country has always valued the skills and contributions of immigrants; and that our country is what it is today because of this beautiful blend of people from many nations.  He calls for reform to a broken quota system and makes some suggestions for how we can improve as a nation. 

As I worked the piece, I realized that I very much wanted to include a portion of the poem by Emma Lazarus that is at the base of the statue of liberty. Are the words still relevant for us today? And I included the portion of Matthew 25: 35 (RSV) that was quoted by JFK in the above mentioned book. Those words, I believe, are absolutely relevant today. Regardless of how one feels about immigration and immigrants, it's important not to lose sight of the fact that we are talking about human beings, people just like you and me. These are people that are hurting and at a real disadvantage, caught in the cross hairs of our political system. If our President was listening, I would tell him to keep his eye on the ball.

Alright, thanks for reading. Feel free to comment.


  1. This, my friend, is so important and I am grateful that you have made it. It is beautifully conceived and executed and I heartily agree with the focus on history and humanity.

    1. Thank you, Carol. This was a piece that took so long that I wasn't sure about finishing it! I am glad that I did though. I am anxiously awaiting the fate of the swell of people who are walking to the US. I'd like to see how our government is going to handle them.

      Thank you for the visit and comments.

  2. So much in this beautiful piece. Love the background texture.

  3. Glancing at your piece without reading the words could also imply the mass movement of people into prisons for profit. Both your image's meaning and the implied meaning are frightening.


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