Faces: Black Lives Matter

Faces of Fear/Intolerance. Pastel over oil wash on paper, 2021. 47 x 57 inches. Photographers who contributed to the research: Brittany Murray, Andrew Shurtleff, Seth Herald, Mark Peterson, Jeff Kowalsky.

This is the first panel of a three-panel image called Faces. I am appalled by the negative, militia-fueled reaction to the BLM movement. It strikes me as a medieval response; in fact, I saw faces that could have come directly from paintings by Bruegel and Bosch.

In order to organize the faces, I used a Bosch painting this time: Christ Carrying the Cross. In Bosch’s painting Jesus carries a cross; in mine, the militiaman carries his semi-automatic rifle. I grouped the faces much the way Bosch did in his painting, but in his work the figures are moving toward a destination. In this image they are not going anywhere, just milling around waiting for violence to erupt.

There is a perversion of ethics that begs this analogy, since so many people refer to biblical statements as they perpetuate violence and intolerance. It seems appropriate to echo the compositions and figures of medieval times as society sinks back into these more primitive responses. Even the outfits of some of the Homeland Security soldiers resemble medieval armor. Eventually, I will address this as well.

Sometimes the making of art is the experience itself, and sometimes the experience compels the creation.

Faces of Anger/Hatred. Pastel over oil wash on paper. 47 x 57 inches. Photographers who contributed to this research: Steven Voss, Mark Peterson, Evelyn Hockstein, Amanda Andrade-Rhodes, Seth Herald, Shannon Stapleton.
Faces of Pain. Pastel and charcoal. 48 x 57 inches. Photographers who contributed to the research: Chris Young and two unknown.

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