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, 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.