The Last Judgment









Perhaps because I am a child of revo­lu­tion and polit­i­cal asylum, my work is driven by exis­ten­tial ques­tions that probe ideas and values, history and culture. Without reach­ing conclu­sions, this series point­edly asks what is the moral price of free­dom, what is the cost of violence and war.

In The Last Judgment series I survey these ques­tions through a wide vari­ety of mate­ri­als: sumi ink, gold leaf, ashes, burns on silk paper, hair with tears on mili­tary netting, even wax and frank­in­cense.  I turn to differ­ent mate­ri­als for their symbolic qual­i­ties of trans­parency or obscu­rity in rela­tion to my subject, giving more thought to substance than to style.

This series started with a conver­sa­tion I had with a veteran, recently returned from Iraq. One of the many GIs now enter­ing the college popu­la­tion, the young woman was strug­gling with rein­te­gra­tion into civil­ian life. She suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and clin­i­cal depres­sion.  I wanted to help her but felt power­less to do so. I thought about the trans­for­ma­tive power of art and asked her to model for me. Then I asked others, cast­ing these young veter­ans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to pose as the differ­ent char­ac­ters in Michelangelo’s master­piece, The Last Judgment.

Other versions have since followed, each explor­ing a tangent only suggested by that first reen­act­ment.  These tangents form clus­ters of inquiry: Judgments, Prophets, Lamentations, Queror, Preserve, Liberties, Rites, Veils,and Gardens.

Ultimately, this series may never end. I have no answers and there is still so much to ask, so much to say for the veter­ans I befriended. For me. For all of us.