My studio practice has been to organize my images into series that explore various ways to abstract reality by photographic means. For part of 2018, though, my visual work has become focused on national politics.
When the Trump administration began separating immigrant children from their parents and families at the US/Mexico border, the political atmosphere in this country became so dark and disturbing, that I could not continue my work with abstraction. I never thought that, in my lifetime, I would see such a thing happen in the United States. I needed to do something, however small, to express my outcry over the traumatic separations. Since I am an artist, a photographer, the most potent way for me to express my feelings is with the visual image.
Others have gone to the border to visually document this suffering. Instead, I have turned to my collection of images to express my feelings. For a number of years, I have been collecting images for a photographic project entitled “Compound”. The concept of the project was to photographically imagine what it would be like to live in a compound, a place hidden away and fortified with weapons, a place to survive apart from society and defend oneself against intruders. After the United States government forcibly took children from their families and sent them to compounds (called detention centers), my “Compound” photographs meant something very different to me. The series is now entitled “My New Home”.
It is one thing for people to voluntarily live together in a compound that protects them but to take children from their families and imprison them in such a place with strangers directing their lives is unconscionable.
As a response to “Fox and Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade’s comment of "Like it or not, these are not our kids”, I have included, in my series, photographs of children of differing ethnicities. All children are our children and should be protected, nurtured, and handled with care.
It is now December, and many, many children have yet to be reunited with their families. This is not the country I thought I lived in. I will not remain silent.
The efforts of a good citizen are never useless; by being heard and seen, by his expression, gesture, silent determination, by his very gait he is of service.
- Lucius Annaeus Seneca On Tranquility of Mind