I grew up in a Mid-Century-Modern home with large picture windows facing the Fox River in Illinois. My Mother was OCD about housecleaning and felt everything had its place and should be in it. She made two exceptions to the rule and allowed certain disorders; an un-mowed patch of lawn with rare wildflowers in the yard, and a pair of binoculars and a bird identification book that stayed on the dining room table. My unruly personality and I were another disorder she tolerated.
Growing up with a love of all things that flew and floated past on the river it was only natural they would appear in a series of work one day.
But for me…at age 64… art has become political. It is not enough to paint pretty birds.
My fellow sexagenarians and I have been protesting and fighting for and against the same issues for 40 to 50 some odd years.
I saw the civil rights movement and witnessed the assassination of Martin Luther King in the Sixties. And now, I have witnessed the Black Lives Matter movement and watched the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police in the year 2020.
I hiked for hunger and protested the Vietnam War in my teens, and in my sixties I delivered food to hungry kids in a school bus in the midst of a global pandemic.
I saw women burning their bras and fighting for their equal rights all my life, watched Anita Hill’s character assassinated and have lived to see the “Me Too” movement as women continue to be victimized by men in power over them.
I saw the Kent State shootings in the ‘70’s, the Columbine Massacre in the 90’s and the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012. Shooting has become such a “thing” that poet Kathy Fish in her poem “Collective Nouns for Humans in the Wild” declares that the collective noun for schoolchildren is a target.
I fought for environmental respect and tried to leave the world a better place only to see years of progress in environmental legislation ripped to shreds during the Trump administration, and to witness climate change reaching a “critical tipping point”.
Artist and poet Tricia Hersey in her “Nap Ministry” states that “Rest is Resistance” and that “We don’t want a place at the table. The table is full of our oppressors. We are tired. We want a pillow and a blanket, and we want to rest”.
And I agree.
So, I draw on Marcel Proust’s “unruly psychic source of involuntary memory” growing up on a river viewing birds through binoculars, and I combine those sublime forces from past experience with paraphrased images from classic and neoclassic artists in my series “A Hollow Boned Muse”.
I am tired. I do not want to fight anymore. I would rather be sleeping with the sandhills and keeping quiet with
Roberta Condon is an award winning artist competing on the international level. A Master Circle pastelist in the International Association of Pastel Societies, and Signature member of the Pastel Society of America, Condon has a deep love and understanding of the special characteristics of the pastel medium.
Condon also works in the fiber arts, weaving with Long Leaf Pine needles, transferring the classic folk art into modern interpretations.
© Roberta Condon