CHAUTAUQUA PAINTINGS 2017
Tadasana (Standing Rock) -dedicated to the Standing Rock water protectors
Our country was founded to defend a radical idea; individual liberty and individual rights. When the US Constitution was written it was an era of monarchies, which concentrated power into the hands of single individuals, their dynastic families, and the armies that they raised to enforce their rule. The American founding ideals of equality and the freedoms of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were drawn to provide a powerful rebuttal to that order. And they have, but as history has shown, though slow progress has been made, the goals and ideals upon which our democracy was built have not always come to fullest fruition. Their earliest trial was in the genocide of Native Americans and the steady theft of their lands, a cruelty that has ever since been a shard of broken promise stuck in the heart of our national enterprise.
This year we have witnessed one more desecration. We have witnessed as troops and police have beaten, bulldozed, tear gassed, and water cannoned innocent people gathered peaceably to protect their home, their land, and a vital watershed from the ravages of corporate greed. We have witnessed the state operating brutally on behalf of powerful corporate interests. We have witnessed our ideals turned topsy-turvy as the rights of individuals are ceded to corporations, the monarchs of our time.
Tadasana refers to an asana (pose) practiced in yoga. In tadasana one stands erect, centered, poised but relaxed, ready. In the moment of standing the individual feels alert, alive, fully conscious, and prepared to meet the challenge of the practice. It seemed to me to be an apt description for the preparation required to resist oppressive forces wherever found. Today our democracy faces real pressures and real peril, so it is contingent upon those who care for its preservation to be alert and ready, to witness and react. In English the name for tadasana is mountain pose, and what is a mountain but a standing rock? With these thoughts I dedicate this painting to the bravery, the toughness and tenacity of the Standing Rock water protectors.
It is a tall order to express complicated political feelings through the means of abstract painting but there is no good reason not to try. I take some comfort in the fact that mountains generally outlast those that would seek to exploit them.
May 2, 2017