Mixed Media on canvas support, 9″ x 12″
Published: Clamor: Literary and Arts Journal, University of Washington: Bothell, May 2013.
Exhibited: Shift Gallery, Seattle WA. June 2013
Historically, when a newspaper published “breaking news,” or beat its competitors to a newsworthy story, the publication would print an extra edition. Newsboys would sell the extra edition on the street barking the words, “extra, extra, read all about it.” In some cases, where the news warranted, people would buy a second edition in a day or opt to buy that extra edition instead of a newspaper produced by a competitor. Aside from introducing new information to the public, it also produced a new way for the publication to make money. In the case of the media, disasters of all kinds were and remain a source of income – making money in the face of disaster.
This piece, created from a canvas bag, is not unlike the money bags used by banks to transport large sums of cash. In its bold red and white stripes, Extra Extra calls to mind the Big Top, a circus of activity that surrounds horrific natural disasters, earthquakes with billions of dollars of damage, tornados that rip through towns wiping out entire families and hurricanes that flood major cities are not only personal disasters, but opportunities for the media to offer extended coverage, liberally interspersed with commercial activity. The images of hundred dollar bills underlies the Chronicle’s announcement of a “quake” with hundreds dead. Big money media is represented by crows, black birds that have no compunction about picking flesh from bones, greedy stockbrokers express their delight at the announcement of a huge, extra-large disaster. Loose feathers are based on the idea that when a bird’s feathers are not smooth, the bird is excited about something, they also make us question exactly what is in the bag? Or does it matter? To the media, human suffering is a tremendous source of income.
This piece is part of an assignment meant to demonstrate the culmination of my understanding of the complexities of symbolism and surrealistic movement of the art of Frida Kahlo. The painting is evocative of my pain. The loss of the close proximity of the grandchildren with whom I lived until divorce caused our separation is expressed in Gringolandia. Kahlo referred to the United States as Gringolandia, the meaning of which subtly signifies its unique cultural attributes. One of those cultural attributes common today in the United States is the loss of family unity, divorce.
Prominent in the foreground are my grandchildren, Vinny and Bella, a reproduction of a photograph taken in my backyard on a sunny June morning, laughing at their grandmother trying to take a picture with a camera that defied me without the use of my glasses. Their uplifting smiles are counterbalanced by the single tear (mine) dropping into an abyss created by a tear in the bay waters. The struggle between the light, sun-filled sky and the moonlit darkness, male against female represents divorce. The canvas is not divided in half by darkness as it would have separated the children and cast Bella in darkness, which is not true. In order to represent the truth, it was necessary for the structure to be off-balance. The children’s position in the foreground with the massive Golden Gate Bridge represents the physical distance between us, they moved to the Bay Area, far from the Puget Sound. Their clothes are current day indigenous, blue jeans and t-shirts. Last, but not least, is the prison-like structure which represents the incarceration of my emotions, because one cannot go around crying about loss forever, so these emotions are bottled-up and secured behind bars.