A Call to Rise
By her own assertion, Christina DeHoff is not a political person. She is known in the Hawaii art world for her ability to make people feel with her powerful and beautiful figurative work.
But in the months following the 2016 Presidential election, the visionary artist who lives on Maui, was hurting and needed to release her feelings. She did that the best way she knew how, with canvas and a paintbrush. The result is her painting, Rise.
“To me, Rise felt like a messenger of hope,” DeHoff says. “She resuscitated my broken heart with a deep, core-expanding, breath of resilience.”
During the months that it took to paint Rise, DeHoff says she worked through a range of emotions — from fear, shock, anger, grief, questioning and depression; into a more awakened, hopeful and brave state-of-mind, knowing that much needed change was occurring.
“I came to the awareness that previously, I had taken so much for granted about my rights and my life,” DeHoff says. “Rise filled me with a new commitment to empowerment and a sense of my own strength.”
DeHoff hopes it will help inspire more women to rise like Alexandria Ocasio Cartez, the Democratic candidate for New York’s 14th district, MJ Hegar who is running for Congress in Texas, and Jahana Hayes, the 2016 National Teacher of the Year who is running for Congress in Connecticut. These women are answering the call to action that DeHoff envisioned while creating her powerful piece, filled with allusion.
Rise is a representation of a modern American woman—with the strength of a
warrior, a blend of ethnicities, and an empowered leader of the tribe. The painting’s heroine wears an American flag intentionally covering only her lower body “as protection against a president who supports grabbing women by their pussies,” DeHoff says.
DeHoff also painted her protagonist bare breasted, to represent brave vulnerability. “Her chest is shattered from a grieving, broken heart, but there is healing occurring from a molten strength, deep at her core.” The reference to molten lava is a nod to Hawaii’s powerful fire goddess Pele.
“We live in a country with puritanical roots, but a woman’s naked body is not a sexual object to be shamed and hidden but the vessel in which she lives, loves from and in which she has the right to feel safe,” DeHoff says.
Rise is further emboldened by thoughtfully placed symbolism. A bald eagle perched on the heroine’s right arm signifies American freedom and strength. Tattoos on her left arm symbolize her mission to heal and unite a country fractured by hate: a dove represents peace; the symbol of intersectionality and those who are interconnected through discrimination; a lotus flower to represent resilience as we emerge from a struggle. Finally, DeHoff painted the image of a phoenix on her heroine’s left art to represent rebuilding, and rising out of the darkness into the light.
The moon, shimmering in gold leaf in the background, illuminates the entire piece and honors the feminine divine.
Maui has some strong feminine energy. Women’s March organizer/instigator Teresa Shook, also calls the Island of Maui home.
“I’ve always felt Hawaii has something to teach the world,” says Tiffany DeEtte Shafto, founder of Tiffany’s Art Agency and a representative of DeHoff’s work. “When Christina shared this painting with me, I knew it needed to be shared—it’s such a power and beautiful call-to-action. I feel it can inspire people to rise above complacency and be spurred to act, whether that’s getting involved in their local community to making their feelings known by voting this fall.”
The original painting of Rise by Christina DeHoff is available at Tiffany’s Art Agency on artsy.net. Hand-embellished giclees are available directly from the artist at ChristinaDeHoff.com.