“A Love Poem To Liberty” / 36″ x 24″ / Acrylic paint, pouring medium, & gel medium
A week and a half after the election my family convened in a nearby town for a hike in the woods and lunch at a local Mexican restaurant. We decided that there would no talk about politics for the day. It was too much, too heavy, and too contentious among some of us. We were all still so raw. Ever since I heard the election results, I could think of nothing else. It was a heavy weight on my heart. It felt good to be out in the woods on a crisp November afternoon in North Carolina, breathing the fresh air and simply being present in that moment together.
At the restaurant after our hike we met our server, a woman with a sweet, round face and warm brown eyes. Over the course of our meal our fondness for this woman grew. I wish I could remember her name… What I do remember is her laughing with pleasure as my young children hungrily devoured their food and her smiling with pride as we lavished the restaurant with praise. We learned that the business had started as a taco truck and after years of hard work they had just opened this brick and mortar restaurant within the past year. Our waitress was lovely and gracious and the food was so delicious. There was a moment of reprieve from the heavy realities of the impending inauguration and what was to come. And then, my mom brought up the election. I held my breath.
“We can’t believe it…” my mother said. The waitress’ countenance revealed vulnerability for a moment; her eyes moistened. Both women looked down and a moment of silence passed.
“We’re just so glad you’re here,” my mother said and stood to face her. “You are so welcome in this country. We’re so glad you’re here.” And the two woman embraced for a minute at the end of the table with the rest of the family looking on.
On our drive back to Durham the sky filled with a murmuration of birds. “Look!!” I exclaimed, pointing out the window to show my three year old twin sons. “See the birds?! That’s called a murmuration… when all the birds move together like that. Isn’t that beautiful??” We watched the birds fly, enraptured, until they disappeared. As I stared out the car window the image for this painting came to me in a sudden wave crashing over my heart and mind. The amalgamation of the day’s experience: my mother and the waitress at the restaurant embracing each other, my mother’s words–“you are so welcome in this country”–those birds all soaring together. In my mind’s eye I saw birds swooping in flight together above the Statue of Liberty, birds of countless colors, entering our country in search of freedom and hope. I began this painting that night and have been working on it ever since. Particularly on bleak days these first few months of our 45th presidency, I have turned to this painting in a meditation on hope. Adding birds one by one until the sky became rich with them.
I love this country. I love that Statue of Liberty that welcomed my Russian Jewish ancestors when they came to this soil in the early 1900s and assured them that they could find a new life here… This painting is my homage to that statue. It is my homage to those who came to this country before and to those who will continue to come. The vibrant diversity here is what makes America great. This is the image of hope I will meditate on. I feel peace when I look at it and I hope that you do too.