Sometimes art shows beauty. Sometimes it shows pain.
This part of the site is still being developed. But for the moment I want to put up some pieces that feel very relevant right now (June 2020). The photos are fuzzy, but these are the only pictures I have of a series called “chess art” that I did in 2003.
In 2003 I was facing the immense internal pain of the United States going to war against Iraq, without justification. For those who may not know, the United States invaded a country that did not attack us and posed no threat to us (see the Wikipedia entry). The United States killed between 100,000 and 600,000 Iraqi citizens.
The injustice of this consumed me for the entire period of the war. Feeling helpless to stop such a massacre, I marched in the streets, I wrote anti-war poetry and posted it online and read it wherever I could get an audience, I created a venue and invited prominent anti-war poets to read their work, and I made my own art as catharsis and release.
This is a series of art pieces based on the idea of chess, which is a game modeled on war. I decided to illustrate visually what I thought about war and peace, using only chess boards. After many years and many moves to new locations I no longer have the chess boards. And I have only a few snapshot pictures of some of the work, which is what you see here. Even though the photographs are not high-quality, I think the idea of the art comes through, which is the important part.
The point of showing you this work, now, is that the United States is still committing a similar injustice. Our own citizens are being persecuted by the same thinking that divides people into “us” and “them.” In this new iteration of violence our own citizens are increasingly under attack. The hard fact is that the United States has become hostile territory for black people, women, the LGBT+ community, immigrants, defenders of diversity, and frankly anyone who speaks up for those who are persecuted. This hostility is born from ignorance, fear, misunderstanding, intolerance, tribalism, and hate — it is the cultural and collective mental disease of our times.
(This artwork was exhibited publicly at AS220, an artist collective and gallery in Providence, Rhode Island.)