Using Art to Understand the World

I have done it again. Somehow I am never quite satisfied with just painting or just making books, print, or sculptures. I must add more layers. Back in 2008 when I decided to reclaim my career as a visual artist I was sure messing around with paint and paper was the way to go. That only lasted about a year before I had turned it into a quest for home and heritage by using my father's research photos as inspiration. And then the next step came about a year ago, when I formulated idea for I Am My White Ancestors. I seem to have an urge to combine disciplines and compile experiences. The last time this happened was in about 1993 when I got the idea to write a book of interviews with artists who were mothers. I was so electrified by the idea I stopped doing book arts or visual arts and threw myself into my new project. Strong Hearts, Inspired Minds: 21 artists who are mothers tell their stories came out in 1996. It felt hopeful and could help other people, which it did.

In hindsight, there was something about the book idea that fulfilled my need to connect with other people, hear their stories and make sense of them. With I Am My White Ancestors, I am doing something similar: trying to understand how racism came about and help transform the relationship white people have with our heritage. Sometimes I think I have the mind of a sociologist and the heart of an artist. That is, I am excited to try and figure out society but want to explain those ideas through the magic of art.