Artist’s Statement Legends
Legends, the series of oil and gold leaf panel paintings, grew out of the profound impact that living for extended periods of time in two different foreign cultures has had on my life. The first is Chiapas, Mexico, from which I have taken as imagery the small woolen dolls representing the Zapatista guerilla warriors that Mayan women made in response to the indigenous uprising there of January, 1994. The ski-masked, machine gun-toting dolls depict Subcommandante Marcos, the uprising’s leader. These crudely made dolls are both intriguing and disturbing, combining contrasting elements of charm and threat. The second culture is Florence, Italy, from which I have taken as imagery the iconography of renaissance painting which often includes the same kind of disturbing contrasts as the Zapatista dolls. Renaissance paintings are beautiful and appealing while often depicting stories of violence and aggression.
In Legends the juxtaposition of guerilla dolls with religious imagery speaks to the uncomfortable alliance between war and religion which has been so common throughout history, our own times no exception, wars waged in the name of God. The juxtaposition of imagery from renaissance Europe and contemporary Latin America speaks more specifically to the conquest of the New World by the Old, the renaissance having produced both religious gold leaf panel painting and the conquistadores. The present-day Maya are inheritors of this legacy and centuries later are still struggling against its constraints and repression.