Tuesday, August 24, 2010

State of the Economy, Decision Portrait Series

(Above: State of the Economy, Decision Portrait Series. Stitched words: I never thought I would apply for food stamps; Trying to make ends meet; Work, work, work; College Grad; Just getting by; Poor; Bills, bills, bills; Single Mom; No Cash; No insurance; Below Poverty level; Broke; This wasn't suppose to be my life. Xylene Photo transfer on tea-stained muslin. Found nails. Hand beaded and stitched. 25" x 19" unframed; 31" x 25" framed. Click on image to enlarge.)

Every day the news includes an item about "the state of the economy". Things are "bad" and often getting worse. People are losing their homes. Unemployment figures are on the rise. There are cut backs in government, industry, and in all types of funding. The arts are suffering. I wanted to stitch a portrait that addresses these changes and how decisions are being made in order to cope with the reality that few could adequate envision only a decade or so ago. I needed, however, someone willing to share such a decision, a brave individual who faced a dismal future and made a difficult personal choice.

(Above: State of the Economy, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

I found this brave lady through a series of Internet messages. She's struggling to make ends meet as a single mother who never thought she'd be in this situation. She's an Ivy league college graduate who once lived comfortably with a bright, happy future ahead for her family.

(Above: State of the Economy, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

A divorce is often a financial set back but in this economy it is doubly bad. Her ex-husband does pay alimony and child support....but it is simply not enough. Jobs are hard to come by and she'd not actually "qualified" for those that might cover the rest of her expenses. She's working for less, trying to find a better paying job, and back in school. Her schedule is a juggling act of work, study, and two boys. She's downsized and moved. She skimps and does without. She has no insurance. All the while, she's hopeful and determined to "figure it all out" and "improve" the current dilemma. One of the important decisions she made was apply for food stamps....something she never thought she'd have to do.

(Above: State of the Economy, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

This is a portrait of a brave individual struggling with the current economic hardships that now mark life in the USA. Although it is one person, the artwork is meant as a reflection of all those coping with the "state of the economy". It is meant to confront all those at the exhibition with a smiling, happy face of the "working poor" who have had to make decisions that weren't suppose to be in their futures.

(Above: State of the Economy, detail. Click on image to enlarge.)

I hope people seeing this portrait reflect on the real people that are struggling, coping, and facing overwhelming odds they are powerless to change. I hope people ask themselves, "What if this were me? How would I act? What would I do? What can I do for others?"


Angie in AZ said...

This piece really speaks to me because I too, am standing in her shoes. Grieving the reality of where I am... in a place I never imagined I'd be. Except I don't have that ivy league college degree and my boys father doesn't always pay to help out. I hadn't worked in 10 years and am hearing impaired which knocks me out of a lot of potential jobs. God has taken care of my boys and I in profound ways this past year and a half and I trust Him to continue as I continue trying to figure out how to make ends meet. Thank you for doing this piece as she represents me and so many others who aren't just trying to mooch off the system but are desperately trying to find a way out of it and care for our families.

Lynn said...

Wow, again, you have spoken to so many through your art, Each piece in this exhibit screams to be seen and heard! This one was me a long time ago...(after a divorce/2 young kids/taking one or two college classes at a time towards that first degree that I got 11 yrs later!) and got food stamps and no spousal or child support (but did from Welfare)... So this one hit home for me too, although as I said it was a past life for me. But I see many in my counseling practice for whom it is happening NOW!!! And yes this economy today is a huge part of it...blessings to them all and to you for adding it to your show.

Wanda said...

Great piece! Like so many others, it could be ME. "But for the grace of God...". Very moving. And Susan..your eTV piece....oh my gosh!! It is FANTASTIC!! I am bursting with pride and awe!!! You look great, you said it all great and it was a great interview! You sounded really wonderful although your voice isn't quite as high. At least I don't think so! I'm very impressed and, like I said...PROUD