Once the exhibition of the Violet Protest came to an end, the work of sorting, packaging and getting all the bundles ready for their trip to every member of Congress began! Housed in a huge empty space at Park Central, tables for every state were set up, and squares were sorted by state. Boxes for each lawmaker were prepared, and over 50 volunteers worked on gathering the squares to fill the boxes with 25 squares for every member of Congress. Hand written lists were made of the makers' names, city and state were painstakingly recorded and included in each package. In addition a color brochure, a letter from the project, and 4 letters from makers across the US were tucked into each box.
For a complete photo gallery of this effort, visit the Violet Protest website/About and scroll to the bottom. But here are a few shots of the process.
The Violet Protest is reaching out all across America and beyond! Right now the project has 10,767 squares committed from 1393 makers in all 50 states and Canada. With deadlines extended due to the pandemic, squares will be accepted until August 1, 2021 - that means we have a good chance of making our goal of 50 squares for each and every member of the 117th Congress! (which means 50 squares x 535 members = 26,750 squares!!) Let's do this!
As a result of receiving the 2019 Arlene and Morton Scult award for mid-career artist at Phoenix Art Museum, the Violet Protest was launched on January 15, 2020. At that time, the project was slated to be exhibited in September of 2020. Once displayed, the collection of squares would be divvied up between each US Representative and Senator and sent to the new 117th Congress early in 2021. Of course, our country was hit with the Coronavirus pandemic, and so, as of now, the show is re-scheduled for Spring of 2021, with the squares slated for sending off in late 2021.
From the project website:
The Violet Protest is a public effort to send 50 hand-made textile squares to each and every member of Congress in support of these core American values:
• Respect for the other
• Country over party and corporate influence
Whether we knit, crochet, quilt, or embroider all 26,750 of these squares — through this social action, and from every corner of America; we as makers of all political persuasions, believe we can employ our willing spirit and our talents to contribute to healing divisions that threaten our country. This collection of textile squares will be first displayed at Phoenix Art Museum,
in the Spring of 2021, before they are sent to the new 117th Congress by late 2021.
Focused on the values we hold dear as Americans, rather than any political beliefs, the color violet symbolizes the literal combination of red and blue, long held as symbols of our nation's differing ideologies. Our common goal is to send a physical message of friendly protest through this colossal visual expression to demonstrate that if we as citizens are willing to come together, so then must our elected officials.
So much has shifted in our country during the span of this project - the pandemic, the justifiable uprising over police brutality against our black citizens. It has hardened the resolve of some makers, and overwhelmed others. But the project persists, and has taken on so much more meaning and depth as people grapple with how to respond, how to speak and how to participate.
There is so much more to unfold, so hold on, the ride could get bumpy - but we are in it together.
Follow the project at:
Well - this post is late in the game, but our "What Can I Say?" show was cancelled for the March 20th opening. That week was the week when all s_ _ _ broke loose - one day it was no more than 50 people together and the next, it was no more than 10. Monday the 16th of March, I was all ready, car packed and heading down to Modified to install. A year's work, ready to go up and be shown! And then the text came, just as I was getting my keys out to start up the car. . . . Well - we've all been through so much since then. It feels like another lifetime ago that we could even think of an opening night, a full gallery of people shaking hands and hugging each other.
As of today, we are planning to "open" the show the third Friday in September. But openings will not look the same - at least for a year or so. Modified Arts is still waiting to see what the proper protocol should be, but even if we arrange a "by appointment only" the work will be shown - and at this point, we think it will be in September, thru October. Stay tuned.
Last year, Chris, Safwat and I started thinking about what a show together might be about. Since we all come from our own "margins", we have thought about how hard it is to express our thoughts, opinions and perspectives about a variety of current socially relevant issues. A brief description of the show:
"It’s true that we all belong to our tribes and yet, most of us feel like we don’t belong. How can this be? Is there any room to talk, to listen, and to build our circles of belonging? Our voices can’t begin to examine every American experience but this exhibit offers our uniquely personal American experiences of fears, personal marginalization, complicity, memories, anxiety, love, humor, and our expressions of humanity. Our stories examine and question our simultaneous roles of colluding with our systems and being exploited by them."
I’m not an innocent bystander. It seems these times have outed a racial divide that has simmered under the surface for centuries, in this, the land of the free and home of the brave. Of late, I’ve felt called to look at the roots of my own white privilege. What cues and assumptions indoctrinated my own habits as a person born with white skin?
I began to think about the invisible, insidious cues that were planted in my early life. What were the subtle messages that were ingrained in my own psyche - all working to assure the maintenance of our hold on the white structure in this country. I began to think about words that I grew up with - rhymes, lyrics, pledges. I thought about images in my own home - food packaging, table linens, religious icons - innocently employed, but damaging all the same.
The work I'm creating for this show attempts to visually layer these cues - mimicking the confusion of these impressions that still float around in my mind and body.
Early in the process, the curator, Lauren O'Connell asked for some progress shots. Still awaiting my final yarns to be delivered, I made several tests and this little scrunchie, when used to suspend the speculum looked very much like, well, a vagina. That was when I knew how I would approach this piece.
When I explored my solution for a piece for the show 10 Artists-2000 Speculums, it seemed simple enough. But as I accomplished my tests and settled on how the final components would work, I started doing the math and realized that I would have to make at least 3 components per day to finish in time for the opening of this exhibition - each component taking about 1 1/2 - 2 hours to complete. That was in July and the install for the show was on September 30th! It's a good thing that for much of the summer, all I could do is heal from a surgery that was ultimately reflected in this personal work. You see, the show revolves around the speculum - a diagnostic tool that all women have experienced during vaginal exams. My surgery? - a hysterectomy. It's a loss of such a vital part of a woman's body. I am fortunate that I was asked to develop work around this familiar, but fearful object. Through this intense work, I was able to process my procedure in such a meaningful and personal expression.
Our friend Miguel Monzon and Assistant Gallery Manager at Modified Arts produced a short preview of some of the work installed for the It's Only Natural Exhibition.
New Work in Progress
This is an ongoing narrative that follows new projects in progress.