I find myself in the odd position of having both a very old piece and a very new piece in two concurrent shows. I’ll eat your shame and make you new, 2009, will be on display at Jackson Junge Gallery in Wicker Park from the end of September to the end of October, and cunt, 2017, will hang in the Columbia College Library through mid December.
These are both important pieces to me, turning point pieces, perhaps.
Inspiration for I’ll eat your shame came out of a conversation between a couple of authors, teachers, and filmmakers about the iconography of war. As these five people spoke, I tried to remember all the snapshots I had ever seen from the hundreds of human rights catastrophes in my own lifetime, starting from what was then the present onslaught of cell phone photographs coming back from Abu Ghraib, and working in reverse chronological order through great American failures like the lack of relief for victims of Hurricane Katrina, slowly but constantly escalating police brutality, race riots and ethnic cleansings and massacres; the dark, defining moments of a culture captured on film, in print, for posterity, to be studied over time and revisited and learned from. I asked one of the panelists, Errol Morris, if he thought there would ever be enough of these profound images to eventually inspire people to work toward real positive social change, to make better choices. He replied, “One thing I’ve learned is to never underestimate the stupidity of humans.”
cunt, a drawing that happened over months spent considering the fallibility of language, the obscuring of truth, and the resolution of anger, among other things, ultimately allowed me to step into a new life. Within the lines and shades of this piece, I remembered something that a few years of self-loathing had significantly dimmed: my worth. The time I put into this piece helped me to not only forgive myself for the past – to find calm within the blue ocean of thought, a necessity if I were to ever touch dry land again – but to also be honest about my future and finally relinquish my attachment to the false security that comes from a steady paycheck, to employ better systems of value for the sake of my survival. With this drawing, I realized that I would rather work for myself, make my own choices, better choices, starting with how I live on a daily basis.
Both of these works are connected to my belief in the necessity of change, the power we do have to make real changes in our lives. I’m pleased that they’re both hanging on vastly different walls in my fair city.