“Defending Democracy” is a series of contemporary portraits of real women from the U.S. Armed Forces who exemplify the commitment and sacrifice required to protect our democracy. Leading by example, they beg the question, “Am I doing my part?”
Disheartened daily by news broadcasting nation-wide incidences of social and political strife, I grew increasingly disturbed by the manifest fragility of our democracy. As a U.S. Citizen, I have enjoyed a lifetime of freedoms and privileges– the freedom to live in relative peace, the freedom of self-determination, the freedom to pray as I wish, the opportunity to offer my three children a quality education, the reassurance of safety provided by police and fire departments, and the ability to vote for who best represents my values. As an artist, I appreciate the freedom to express myself without fear, so I wondered how I might use my art in service of the greater good to encourage civic engagement.
“Defending Democracy” is my answer.
These are not traditional portraits of stiff military brass. Instead, they’ll convey stories of combat on and off the battlefield, valor and vulnerability, Purple Hearts, and broken hearts. In homage to the Women’s Reserve Camouflage Corps, a unit of American women artists who designed and tested camouflage techniques during WWI, and as a way of contemporizing these portraits, camouflage patterning will both reveal and partially conceal my subjects. Camouflage disrupt perceptions, so what better metaphor for these women who disrupt the status quo in the male-dominated world of our current military.
Shown here are small prototypes. These ‘close-ups’ may not demonstrate the full potential power of larger-scale paintings (like the planned portrait of a battle-ready soldier who appears barefoot because knowing her toes are painted pink gives her confidence), but they are tools for introducing the concept and suggest my visual approach.