“Martyr & Cage” (dyptich) 2019

0055 "Martyr & Cage"
2019, oil & gilding on canvas (diptych), 60″ x 122″

I 1st used the chicken cage image as a metaphor for Minidoka and other internment (concentration) camps.  There was this bullshit excuse that my relatives were interned to “protect” them from the anger of other Americans.  It’s like saying we put chickens in cages to protect them from the fox.
I think of the figure on the right panel as the “Martyr”. He derives from my interest in the Chinchorro mummies of Peru.  They were embalmed with clay in their mouths to keep them moist before burial but eventually the mouth dried and opened up giving the appearance of a scream.  Edward Munch and Paul Gauguin saw an exposition including Chinchorro mummies in Copenhagen.   Munch did his first studies for “The Scream” at about that time.  I was working on my version of a related theme when I agreed to do some works addressing the Japanese American internment in light of present day incarceration of people at our southern border. So my mummy became a Japanese American/ Hispanic” martyr” …..   a rebellious hero adorned with the aureole as seen by Blessed Juan Diego.  While the cage looked like the aerial photos of Minidoka it was identical to the cages on the roof of the bus in the famous photo that documented the site where in the 1970s  El Salvadoran nuns were raped.  Do I believe that these two images can actually tie together these disparate subjects.  No, they may well not be essentially linked –  but as a “second reader” I read them and painted them, in this place and time … as existentially related as a kind of metaphor for this time.  

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