LEST WE FORGET: Stories in Collage and Mixed Media
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana
The over-riding theme of my works, “Lest We Forget,” incorporates family mementos, found objects, ephemera and words as narrative tools to memorialize deceased relatives and to revisit historic events and social values.
The title piece is a white baby shoe with blue ribbons which is encased in wires and rusty nails. It represents thousands of baby shoes in Holocaust museums around the world, and it is a reminder that in all wars, the physical and psychological scars left in their wake never fully disappear, not only for the generations who survive but also for those that follow.
Early works in this series depict children on ponies dressed as cowboys, juxtaposed with visions of the Holocaust and the horrors of war. The importance of appreciating different perspectives and bearing witness to injustices are also recurrent themes.
“The Baggage We Carry & the Legacies We Leave,” my most recent solo show and newest works, is a continuation of those themes but on a deeper, more evocative level. It represents my evolution into a conceptual artist more concerned with meaning and substance than medium and method. The “baggage” in the show’s title is what defines who we are: 1. Where we came from; 2. What we believe; 3. Why we are here; and 4. How we will be remembered.
As a conceptual artist, my intent above all, is to challenge viewers to project upon my art, their own stories and meaning. Thus every piece begins a dialogue between the work and the observer, and may evolve into a conversation about values and beliefs.
Four works in the “Baggage” show are especially evocative of human rights and social justice: “Tikkun Olam: Repairing the World,” (an obligation of the Jewish people passed down from early Biblical times, shared with Christianity and Islam, the two other Abrahamic religions); “In Search of the Better Angels of Our Nature,” (A quotation from Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address just prior to the Civil War); “War is not the Answer,” (a popular slogan of progressives before and during George W. Bush’s war in Iraq); and “Ebony & Ivory: Can’t We All Just Get Along?” ( a song made famous by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder, combined with a quote pleading for calm from Rodney King, a black man whose brutal beating by white police during the LA riots of 1992 was captured on video).
Four other works derive from family stories: “The Baggage We Carry….” installation (assemblage of found objects and family mementos in 4 clear plastic boxes on a wooden platform, surrounded by suitcases of various sizes and styles); “The Mikado circa 1962….” (about second chances after an embarrassing chorus performance in high school); “Caution: Railroad Crossing” (when David, my 3 year old twin, ran away from home); and “Keeping Connections Across Generations” (when telephones originally were lifelines for our family spread across the country).
The theme of legacies is also reflected in the artists with whom I claim a kinship: Marcel Duchamp; Robert Rauschenberg; Joseph Cornell and Betye Saar. We all stand on the shoulders of Giants. Artists throughout history have used art to speak out against tyranny and to help make the world a better place. I’m proud to be a part of that tradition.