Since before we went to Bulgaria, I've been working on an altered book. I used an old Currier & Ives text and images gathered from several other volumes, including picture books on the Statue of Liberty and Norman Rockwell's Saturday Evening Post. I cut illustrations from Victorian magazines and various current subscriptions. I did hours of research online, getting statistics on the homeless, women's shelters, abuse, immigration, Ellis Island, and quotations using words like shelter and home. The pages I left in the book were first watercolored and then collaged with images. I used a peacock blue acrylic ink to incorporate the research. Although I started the project before I was asked into the Open Eyes 2006 invitational show, it came together and is intended for display in that upcoming exhibition. (Scheduled October 19-31 at Gallery 80808 in Columbia, SC) The book is now complete. I am thrilled with it, especially since it really addresses Open Eyes 2006 theme. Open Eyes is an artistic group supporting women's triumphs over staggering odds. After supporting Women in Black, the group focused on Makhtaran Bibi. This year the title is SHELTER. The inspiration is the work of the Women's Shelter and the courage of the women who cross its threshold. Thus, American Dream, my altered book, is perfect. Today I shot digital images of the pages and wrote the following statement.
The American dream is the idea (often associated with the Protestant work ethic) held by many in the United States of America that through hard work, courage and determination one can achieve prosperity. These were values held by many early European settlers, and have been passed on to subsequent generations. What the American dream has become is a question under constant discussion. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_dream
As the daughter of an immigrant, I was raised to believe in the American Dream. Hard work, courage and determination always paid off in dividends of prosperity, security, and a place of my own. For me, the American Dream is my wonderful home and family. At least that’s how it worked out for me. Yet, the older I get, the more I’ve come to know that this widely held belief doesn’t always work out so well for others. Too many women aren’t living the American Dream. Too many are abused, homeless, and struggling despite their best efforts. The pages of this altered book are meant to show the coexistence of the dream and the nightmare. Hopefully, readers will be inspired, like I am, to contribute to charitable causes and help those who are less fortunate. The one thing I’ve learned is that achieving prosperity is not quite enough. One must be willing to share it. Only then can the American Dream be fully realized.