While looking for sources of inspiration and hope to manage life in these uncertain times, I came across a moving speech by Valarie Kaur, a Sikh lawyer and activist. Her speech “What if this is not the darkness of tomb, but the darkness of the womb” from January 2016 was pivotal in my shift towards action and hope and away from despair or hopelessness. The bulk of the paintings for this show evolved over the past year using Valarie’s idea of “first we breathe, then we push” as instructions for thriving in dark times. The star, cosmos, and dot paintings in the show are about the need to breathe, to stay present, and to make human connection. The word paintings are meant to inspire the push and the action needed to resist. I have also been inspired by the many writers who are addressing the need to stay in touch with hope and with our shared humanity, including Carl Sagan, Marie Howe, andDr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes.
I encourage you to watch Valarie’s video (https://vimeo.com/209223693) if you have not already seen it as she reminds us that this struggle is not new, and it is important to seize this moment to stay awake and in action and not to surrender to despair or isolation. The show is called Hope rising, but I also think of it as “instructions for dark times: first we breathe, then we push." Half of the proceeds from the word paintings will be donated to Valarie’s Revolutionary Love organization that supports immigrant rights and progressive causes.