My point of departure as an artist is my own life and experience. I figure if I can go deeply enough my findings will have relevance to others.
In 1976, I was commissioned (as artist for WOB) to do a catalog cover for Other Sources exhibit at the SF Art Institute. I decided on a cover design that would later double as a poster calling for freedom for political prisoners around the world. Inspired by the Mexican Muralists, and needing images to study foreshortening, I used myself as a model, making a contact sheet to work from. From these images and photos of political prisoners, I carved a block print poster for street posting. (This poster was to be included in the Committed to Print exhibit, curated by Debora Wye, MOMA, NY, 1988)...
At the time I made these photos I was emotionally numb, channeling my unprocessed feelings into outrage at the injustice perpetuated around the world. Always on alert, ready for anything to happen at any time, unknowingly, I was living with undiagnosed Post Traumatic Stress.
Forward again to late 2011,** sorting through my archives, I come across this old contact sheet of photos of my former self embodying the contortions of my once buried trauma. My body is speaking what I could not then allow myself to feel. When this contact sheet was made, my body was an enigma to me. I felt polluted by my past* and in order to purify myself I used to go on fasts of a week or ten days.
Beginning with rapid gestural drawing with a water soluble crayon on 30x22”, 300# rag paper, I splash on water color, working rapidly and sparingly, coming back into it with a black crayon and water. I’m not looking for realism but indicating felt gesture. I step back and move in fast with curves, jabs and smudges. I am salvaging, resurrecting, looking for true feelings to emanate from the figure in each work. When each drawing realizes itself I stop.By observing, re-creating and re-imaging the language of my younger body through the vision of my much older self—I inform my identity with the intention of journeying towards continual resurrection and liberation of self and society.
This poster was to be included in the Committed to Print exhibit, curated by Debora Wye, MOMA, NY,
catalog cover for Other Sources
exhibit at the SF Art Institute designed
by Rachael Romero WOB
**Romero's impulse in making the Life Studies (aftermath drawings) is to depathologize the negative affects of personal trauma so that they can be seen. It is her goal that, when integrated into a more complex online ‘moving picture” this ‘seeing’ might NOT be a witness of “sorrow of the singular other,” but instead its antithesis——a catalyst to community formation and a witnesses account of the need to acknowledge the corrosive secrets societies keep, possibly opening an avenue for cultural exploration and political action and prevention of present-future abuse and exploitation.
processing the aftermath of extra-judicial incarceration and forced labor in a Magdalene Laundry, Australia
"...art and ideas come out of the passion and torment of experience: it is impossible to have a real relationship to the first
if one's aim is to be protected from the second." --James Baldwin 1959