Friday, June 8, 2012

Era of Proof

Tonight we will gather to celebrate the opening of my show: Era of Proof

A few months ago I noticed a water ring on my great-grandmother’s table in our hallway. I couldn’t help but wonder how it got there and started to think about marks that we leave behind­—all the “water rings” left around the world. Marks that go unnoticed as well as those that stay ingrained forever became the overall theme for my show. I want everyone who walks through this gallery to think about these questions: How are you going to leave your mark? How will you make the world a better place?

The world is facing a whole host of issues: lack of clean water and poor sanitation; diseases such as AIDS, malaria, TB; famine and malnutrition; gender inequality and human trafficking; extreme poverty. However, when glance at the front page, click through current events on the Internet, or get an update on the evening news, these issues are not always at the forefront of the conversation. Many of us don’t hear or think about the struggles that most people in the world face on a daily basis.

These fundamental issues of human need are what I want to address through my art. I want to start a conversation. Not every story is a fairy tale. Indeed, most of the stories describe harsh realities that are commonplace worldwide, realities that affect everyone but fall especially hard on the backs of women. For example, in many parts of the world, female circumcision is considered necessary and honor killings are acceptable. Gender inequality and male-dominated social systems often lead to sex trafficking and prostitution with few regulations and very little assistance by police or protection by law. Lack of education, services, and government can lead to unwanted pregnancies, illiteracy, poverty, drug abuse, violence, rape, mental abuse, gendercide, and mass chaos. Many women are forced into dead end situations because of stigma, sexism, racism, and poverty. UNICEF reports that fifteen women are raped every ten minutes; four million women are trafficked each year; an Indian girl dies from discrimination every four minutes. These statistics are real. These women are our mothers, our sisters, our wives, and our daughters.

The health and safety of our planet is a global crisis that needs to be addressed on a global scale. In my recent travels I kept asking myself, “How can we bring these issues to the forefront of discussion? How can we start a conversation about the environmental issues that the entire world must face?” Many of these issues feel far away, and it is hard to see connections on such a broad scale. People who do not realize or face daily struggles for life-giving resources can easily put them “out of sight and out of mind.”

My hope is that this show reminds my audience that there are real issues at stake and each and every one of us can do our part—be it large or small—to make the world a better place. Elected officials, peace-makers and humanitarians are leading the way to make positive changes. Prepare yourself to be inspired and motivated to follow in their footsteps.

“If not you, who? If not here, where? If not now, when?”

–Rudy Shaffer


  1. Wonderful, thought-provoking entry. I've been thinking much the same thing lately. As I get older, I'm wondering what precisely I have done to make the world a better place. It seems to me that sometimes so much of the academic world is concerned with conversations between academics rather than praxis. I don't want to be one of those people.

    One of my favorite comments from bell hooks: " element of practical wisdom that comes with critical thinking that is mindful and aware is the ongoing experience of wonder. The ability to be awed, excited, and inspired by ideas is a practice that radically opens the mind. Excited about learning, ecstatic about thoughts and ideas, as teachers and students we have the opportunity to use knowledge in ways that positively transform the world we live in. ...ideas are not fixed and static but always subject to change. Hence there is the capacity of ideas to illuminate and heighten our sense of wonder, our recognition of the power of mystery."

    I love the idea of the water ring. I went earlier this year to pack up all my momma's things for action and thought many times of "things left behind."

  2. Peggy, I am so touched by your comment and that you read my blog! You are such a special person inside and out, and I wish that we lived closer so that you could have been at my show. I took pictures and so I will post them shortly. I also have a note off to you in the mail, so be on the look out. I miss you so much and think of you often. If you were here, I would brew you up a cup. Big hugs. xoxo