“Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me.” ~ Matthew 25:40
From the U.S. Constitution:
Amendment IV: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures…
Amendment IX: … certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people and those Amendments protecting our civil rights to vote and to be…
Amendment XIII: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Amendment XIV: All persons born or naturalized in the United States, … are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which … shall …deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Amendment XV: The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied … by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude…
Amendment XIX:The right of citizens … to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Black Lives Matter … Brown Lives Matter … Women’s Lives Matter and will continue to need to be championed until we can understand our differences, accept our similarities and live the words of our laws and Matthew 25:40.
Part of An American Story: The Phasianidae Family & Friends Exhibition
This work was done in response to the 2016 Election and Black Lives Matters protests. Each work was exhibited with a story or quote. Below is the introduction to the overall exhibit.
Turkeys and peacocks are members of the same family. Yet one is revered as a pet or a symbol of fashion; the other is considered a game bird worthy only of being hunted and eaten rather than given equal respect. One screams with human like sounds, the other gobbles and goes about its business.
The peacock is a reflection of our first world problems. Being overwhelmed by emotions and unaware of how much we have as we focus inward on problems of self.
By contrast the turkey is a native American symbol of abundance and exemplifies gratitude in our Thanksgiving story. Benjamin Franklin’s commentary on the American Turkey as a ” … respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America. He is besides, tho’ a little vain and silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a Red Coat on.” This sliver of history and the Aesop’s story of the Peacock’s Lament provide the contrast that make the two classes of birds symbols for the Haves and the Have Nots, subjects to represent racial tension.
York also observed many woodpeckers at her feeders. Listening to the constant “rat-a-tat-tat” seemed to echo the sounds of children playing with guns, which reminded her of the now too common school shootings. Then one day she discovered a Flicker at the feeder; it looked like a puffed up woodpecker in a leopard skin coat. When she discovered a species of these birds known as the Gilded Flicker… images began to percolate.
“I am a story addict. I want to know where a story will go but as any reader knows there are different sides to the same story paradoxes that make the story richer for the contrast. Right now I don’t recognize the story that America is telling. I hear words like “Great, Better, Best, Wealthiest, Melting Pot, and at the same time words like “Sh*thole, Walls, Sons of B*tches, America First.” from the mouth of the man elected to lead us.
I love our country. The promise of the story started with the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and it’s Bill of Rights.
These ideals and documents that have been fought for, bled for and lead people to our shores to be part of this land. I love that our Revolution inspired the French and to honor our part in their history they gifted us the Statue of Liberty. I love the poem on her base. These are the ideas that have balanced the daily news stories that have torn at my soul while I worked on the paintings for this exhibit.
What story is our country telling you?
Susan J. York, artist