Playground, Iraq

Playground copy 2

Inspired by Ai Wei Wei. It is from a photograph I saw at the Hartshorne Museum in D. C. I forget who the photographer is. Pretty disturbing, but I was instantly drawn to it. It reminded me of a standup routine by Louis C.K. where he was talking about his little girls, wondering when the appropriate age is to tell them about “war”, and how we have that luxury here in this country, to decide that. In some countries they don’t have that luxury. The kids are getting ready for bed, then hear a big explosion, and the next thing they know Uncle Abdul next door is missing an arm and a leg. War is just a way of life for them. We played “cowboys and indians” when we were kids (John Wayne being our cultural reference), they play “public execution”, I guess (their daily lives being their cultural reference?). I call it “Playground, Iraq”.
  God bless America…
 So, I totally ripped off this guy’s photo and tried to take it a step further in the painting. I was going for that Ken Burns kind of thing where it is an old tintype photo that has been retouched with just a little bit of color. I love ken Burns’ stuff, and have been through the Civil War, Baseball, The West series, with his “Jazz” next. You see a lot of those old retouched tintypes in his work. I look back on those sometime and think of it being far away in the past. Sometimes, depending on the context of the story, we look kind of barbaric in that perspective, looking backwards, and we like to think of ourselves as so advanced and evolved in this present day. So I made this as if someone were to look back at the results of our foreign policy, the people left in our wake, and see just how misguided we were. Only, it is happening now. We seem to be inexorably linked to our past, and it causes me to wonder if we can possibly break ourselves from it and truly evolve into a cooperative, peacefully coexisting world citizen.
   I guess I am a bit bored just painting pretty things, and like I said, the Ai Wei Wei thing just kind of got me going, thinking I need to make a statement of some kind, even if the works leave some feeling uncomfortable, you know?