This painting is “Patroness Against Human Commodity”
I admit that the research on this one took a great toll on me. I have to daughters and night after night I read articles on the horrors of the sale of humans. Of girls. (I gave out A LOT of unsolicited hugs). To get myself through I turned to a woman of faith, St. Bakhita, who triumphed over her own slavery to dedicate herself to the service of God. Something that as a ‘high up on the food chain’, white woman with a great life, I am still too scared to do.
Modeled after Saint Josephine Bakhita, who was a victim of human trafficking. She became known as the ‘Black Mother’ and touched many lives with her faith. Close to her heart she wears a medal of the Blessed Mother, whom she was devoted to after her conversion.
Bakhita was not her birth name. It was a name given to her by one of her many slave owners. The name meant “lucky” or “fortunate one” and this is represented on her right. This is another abuse of mockery, perhaps, during horror as she suffered beatings, torture and sexual abuse from when she was first purchased, at the age of 8, hence the bar code on her left.
Bakhita was sold many times during her years of brutal slavery. One owner forced her through scarification and tattooing. This treatment consisted of deeply cut wounds into which salt was poured to produce permanent scarring. A total of 114 intricate patterns were cut into her breasts, belly and into her right arm.
Her halo honors her scars through the Morse Code symbols for ‘Help’-S.O.S.
Her hands support girls of many races as trafficking knows no bounds. These girls are pictured in pastel colors symbolizing youth and with traditional, pure halos and evidence ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’, due to the sad fact that there are still dark corners where the sale of women and girls is common and encouraged.
OUR LADY OF IMPENETERABLE SANITY
Modeled after St. Dymphna. After her mother died, Dymphna’s father went into a deep depression and became mentally unbalanced. Hid feelings for his daughter turned to lust and why Dymphna rejected him and fled, he hunted her down and had her beheaded.
Before her murder, she opened a clinic for the poor and sick and believed in working on mental as well as physical ills. In art she is portrayed as the ‘demon slayer’ as at that time most mental illness was deemed possession by demons and/or need for conversion.
In some older versions of her portraits, she is, seen with a sword pricking the neck of a demon; symbolizing her title of Demon Slayer.
Throughout history, women have been persecuted for there diminished coping skills and mental acuity. Hysteria is undoubtedly the first mental disorder attributable to women, described in the second millennium BC, and until Freud considered an exclusively female disease. Over 4000 years of history, this disease was considered from two perspectives: scientific and demonological. It was cured with herbs, sex or sexual abstinence, punished and purified with fire for its association with sorcery and finally, clinically studied as a disease and treated with innovative therapies.
Today we are still shamed an ostracized (even by ourselves), for the need to seek help, treatment or medication for mental illness, especially for working professionals and mothers where the need to constantly be ‘as good as or better than’ is the social norm.
In the painting, her halo is a gear, a ‘cog’. Mental health care is an industry and she is connected to it by her old-fashioned electro shock therapy conduits. Her crown rests on top. Her belief in herself her glory. An angel rests on one side. A devil on the other, representing the theory that mental illness can be explained away as the demonic. The severed neck of St. Dymphna is represented. The covering failing to hide it, as if removal of the head would solve all her problems. She is clad in blue, her attempt to cover herself in calm. She holds a book as if to shield herself and force us to look at it-the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
I seem to be in a mood. I’ve been working on this piece and I’m torn about the best way to make the mold for it. And I did 3 materials tests before I got what I wanted.
Art is hard.
It’s work. It’s time consuming. It’s exhausting. It’s not ‘what I do’ as much ‘who I am’ but if you know me, you know I do not mean that in the glitter covered, non-personal responsibility way it could be interpreted.
Truthfully, if I didn’t have my art I wouldn’t be a very good person. And it would SUCK to know me.
When I see artisans or small businesses post the treacle of ‘when you buy small you’re paying a a little girl to get dance lessons’, I shudder. Guess what-when you buy big you’re paying for that too, maybe you just don’t get to look the specific kid in the eye. SOMEBODY is benefitting from commerce no matter what.
When you tell me or another artist that our work is ‘too much’ or ‘ I can find that on Pinterest and do it’, I used to get so mad I’ve cracked teeth. But I don’t anymore. You can’t fix stupid. And that is exactly what that mentality is. Stupid.
When you buy a hand crafted work of ANY sort, wanna know what you are really paying for? Years of education. Internships. Shitty jobs so to buy art supplies. Years of living on Jolt Cola and Snickers bars to make deadlines. Learning how to paint with both hands. Burns from a torch. Cuts from machinery. Years taken off a life from lack of sleep because the project JUST WON’T FUCKING TURN OUT THE WAY I WANT IT. Lonliness. No one awake at 2 am when something goes wrong. No one awake at 2 am to celebrate when something goes right. Trial and error. Learning curves. Arthritis. Missed school recitals. Marketing plans we have no business writing on our own. Learning Quick Books and Excel. Legal Fees. Exposing yourself openly on social media. Therapy. A spouse’s forgiveness. Unwalked dogs. Being able to let go of something you created and hope that someone will treat it as lovingly as you did.
In other words. A life. An artist is allowing you-asking you to share a moment with them-to share a feeling. ALL the feelings and work and ups and downs it took to complete that piece. And they want to share it with YOU. Hope that you get as much from it as they did.
So if that all seems a little weighty to consider every time you look to buy some hand made earrings, or clothing or a painting or resin collectable-it is. And both you and the artist deserve the consideration.