America Red, White, and Blue

Tucson.
Tucson.

In December 2014, my father and I drove cross-country from Tucson, Arizona to Madison, Wisconsin part of a holiday excursion.  It would be a healing experience because after many years of unsuccessful infertility treatments, I had to face a new reality.  We discussed politics and my father’s childhood memories including learning how to shoot a gun on his family’s homestead in Daniel, Wyoming.  With a forty-first birthday approaching in January, my father wanted me to take a class to learn how to operate a firearm.

During my instruction, the intricate patterns with each shot and its culture captured my attention.  A weapon had now become repurposed into a mode of mark making while observing its operation and consequence.  I had immersed myself into an environment that was foreign and outside my vocabulary.

Practicing regularly, I continued to shoot and research.  Six months after my birthday on June 17th 2015, a gunman in a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina killed nine people.  This unspeakable horror proved once again that the madness must stop.

My art practice had now expanded into a reflection of our American culture.

In November of 2015, I traveled to China for the first time part of an art exhibit, tour, and cultural exchange.  One evening sitting in a hotel room in Hangzhou, China, loud pops erupted.  Immediately dropping to the floor lying flat on my stomach, I yelled at my husband urging him to do the same.

The noise wasn’t from a gun- it was fireworks.

My reaction was a direct result of my American experience drastically different from my Chinese counterparts.  This empowered me to investigate identity, ask why, and honestly define what it meant to be American.  These experiences redefined me as an artist and inspired the pieces America Red, White, and Blue.

America Red.
America Red.

 

America White.
America White.

 

America Blue.
America Blue.

The America series investigates diverse cultures and relationships between manmade and natural environments.  Fascinated by flight or disorientation, I merge together disparate experiences to create new narratives.  Colorplan sheets of cover stock sized 25×38 inches were brought to a gun range.  Using a Mossberg 500 shotgun as a vehicle of mark making, paper was placed on a target 7 yards away.  The artwork records how patterns of power and inequality can be spread through distance, speed, and the repurpose of intention.

America Red, White, and Blue on view at the Social Justice: It Happens to One, It Happens to All exhibit at St. Mary’s College Museum of Art from September 18 – December 11, 2016.

The links:

www.jennyebalisle.com/social

http://www.gutfreundcornettart.com/info-social-justice.html

http://www.stmarys-ca.edu/saint-marys-college-museum-of-art/exhibitions-and-collections/current-exhibitions

http://www.stmarys-ca.edu/saint-marys-college-museum-of-art

 

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