Sunday, July 19, 2020

How Lucky Am I: White Privilege

(Above:  How Lucky Am I: White Privilege, an artist book. When hung on a wall: 14 3/4" x 9" x 4".  Thirty-one pieces of 12" x 9" painted canvas with zigzag stitched edges and hand embroidered statements, mounted on a vintage clip board.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

I've had the vintage clip board for at least a year, maybe two, maybe three.  Yet somehow I knew it would come in handy.  In fact, I sort of imagined it as an artist book. I just didn't have a subject and no ideas for what kind of pages it might hold ... until a couple weeks ago.  Then, two ideas flashed in my mind like neon lights.  The first was easy and quick to accomplish:  Black Lives Matter, a series of eight anonymously stitched cross stitch profiles mounted in 10" wooden embroidery hoops.  When I blogged about them, I included the following paragraph:

Horrifying videos of police brutality, recent protests, and especially the number of email messages from businesses and non-profits with racial equity and justice support messages got me thinking and wanting to better educate myself in regards to white privilege and justice for minorities.  I haven't gotten through the entire list, but I've been reading article after article listed on American & Moore's '21-Day Racial Equity Challenge'. 

This second idea took much longer!  First, I had to paint a large piece of primed canvas.  I had the canvas already, rolled up and tucked away in a corner.  It was leftover from a roll purchased for works made back in 2012 as a way to express the colors and reflections in the waters of Key West.  (Blogged HERE.)  I drew and dabbled and sponged and sprayed all sorts of acrylic paint over it.  It dried and then I ripped it into as many 12" x 9" pieces as possible.  All the edges were zigzag stitched with a pretty variegated King Tut cotton thread.  Finally, I was ready to hand stitch the sentences I wrote.

The list was inspired by  Peggy McIntosh's 'White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.  For this exercise, Peggy McIntosh listed the many advantages she had due to white privilege.  I did the same.  Each sentence was printed in a large, block-styled font on ordinary paper. Each piece of paper was pinned to a piece of canvas.  Black DMC floss was used to stitch the sentences ... right through the paper.  Afterwards, the paper was carefully torn away, leaving just the embroidery floss.  I used a hand-held paper punch on each page and installed them on the vintage clip board.

Photographing the work was a challenge.  Each page was shot, flipped up, and held in place by large clips ... so that the next page could be digitally captured. The statements went in randomly, just as each one was finished.  There is, however, a clear beginning page and an intentional last page.  The beginning reads:  I was born with white privilege.  Race was never discussed at home.  I had to learn about my advantages. This is an incomplete list.  The last page reads:  How lucky am I? VERY but I promise to speak up and speak out until the world is a better, more equitable place.

The image above is the first in a series of composites.  The rest of the pictures below show three pages at a time.  I do hope that this piece expresses more than just words.  It is meant as my active response to systemic racism and my hope to be part of the solution rather than part the problem. 


Catherine - Mixed Media Artist said...

Just WOW - you never seem to run out of ideas about how to address any challenge that comes your way - DO you ever SleeP :-)

Margaret said...

You continue to amaze and impress me with your output -- and your unique ideas and modes of expression. WOW!

Bonnie Cosentino said...

This project is so powerful and beautiful.It's a privilege to come here and see this on my computer today. I salute your heart and your wonderful talent.