I got an email a while back from a fellow artist, inviting me to participate in an upcoming show at the Frank Bette Center for the Arts in Alameda. The show, called “Eight Student Nurses,” is about domestic and gender violence, with an emphasis on “pieces that celebrate the lives of the victims without sensationalizing the violence itself”.
I immediately thought of a young woman I had known in college, one of a group of freshmen in my dorm my junior year. She was bright, energetic, with lots of energy and a big smile. I was shocked to learn last year that she had been murdered by her ex-husband in a custody dispute; the man later committed suicide on his way back home to his second family. I think part of my shock, apart from my personal knowledge of the woman, was based on assumptions of class and education. I went to Mount Holyoke College, one of the “Seven Sisters,” and while most of my friends there were from middle-class families, many attending on scholarships and grants, we still enjoyed what to most of the world was an incredibly privileged existence. And while I certainly know, intellectually, that domestic violence cuts across all economic, racial, religious, and any other lines one cares to draw, I still had a gut reaction of “it can’t happen here.”
This print is based on a photograph of my friend, taken when she was around 10 years old. She had just won several prizes in a horse show, and is posing proudly with her horse and awards. I wanted to show a young girl full of potential, proud of her achievements, and looking forward to a bright future. But in an overlay, casting a shadow over her, is the warning that violence can strike anyone, “even girls with horses”.
There will be three more prints in this series. Each print will show young girls and women from different parts of the world, all active, strong, and happy, and looking forward to full and rewarding lives. Each print will have a shadow text of warning hovering over it.
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“Eight Student Nurses” will be on display in September, and there will be readings and films accompanying the show. I will post details closer to the actual time of the show.