Source: The final Portrait-Berta Cáceres
Hello lovely friends! I am Sending out a quick update about the 2016 path! I have taken a brief departure from the portrait paintings of the Women Activists and embarked on a season of tiny personal paintings created to fund the final leg of the Roots To Resistance Project. ‘What I Am’ is a loosely woven tale of a Woodswalking Artist in tiny words, paintings and photographs, and it was created because I did not want to hold another traditional fundraiser. Instead I am using my Artistic efforts to support what will be the final and 12th Portrait, of recently slain Honduran Activist Berta Cáceres.
We were devastated to learn of the murder of Berta Cáceres in March of this year. We had originally reached out to her organization in late 2015 about painting her Portrait and creating a Postcard Campaign in her own words and design. We were never able to complete that aim but intend to carry forward with that Portrait and Partnership in honor of the profound force of life that she was and is.
So this in fact will be the final Portrait for Roots To Resistance. We have had many thoughts and many intentions along the way for the future of this project, some of which included a lifetime of Portraits and Activists, a project with no end, a cross country Bus Tour, and international showings. The list of Activists originally chosen has changed, transformed and grown as the times have dictated, some of our aims have been met and others have fallen short. We have raised money for some amazing Women and Organizations along the way, spread some information, raised issues and stated our cases to the likes of Vladimir Putin, Barack Obama and the UN. We partnered with our local Peace Pagoda in 2015 outfitting the marchers with thousands of Postcards demanding an end to all Nuclear Arms, which they handed out on their long walk from Massachusetts to Washington DC. The project has had a good run and now we feel we want to offer more to the Women than the ongoing project can provide. We want to offer them funds to be used in their own Communities in the ways they see fit. With this goal in mind all 12 of the completed 8 foot high Portraits will be Auctioned off in 2017 with half of the proceeds going to each of the Women or the Organizations they were affiliated with.
That is the update folks! Lots of tiny paintings of creatures, bones and underearth worlds, as well as amusing narratives of my anxious childhood brain, all on display August 26th 27th and 28th at the APE Gallery in downtown Northampton Massachusetts. The paintings will be small and profoundly affordable and all proceeds will be used to take Roots To Resistance to the finish line. Much love and gratitude to you all for your generosity and support.
Demanding Freedom For Shireen Issawi
“As water is to life, so dignity is to my Humanity” Shireen Issawi
Shireen Issawi is a Palestinian Human Rights Lawyer who was arrested on March 6th 2014 by the Israeli Military as part of a crackdown on Lawyers who where defending and advocating for Palestinian Prisoners. The lawyers, who were enacting fundamental Human Rights law, were branded as supporters of terrorism and have been incarcerated ever since. Shireen Issawi has become the very prisoner that she sought to defend, someone imprisoned and mistreated because of her work, her beliefs and her non violent resistance. Shireen was arrested because of her actions and complaints as a Human Rights lawyer concerning the mistreatment of Palestinian Prisoners and the holding of prisoners without charge. She was very much aware that defending the rights and treatment of Palestinians was a highly risky endeavor but this did not deter Shireen from her work and she continued to press forward in the face of mounting threats. Where would we be without such Humans, who are willing to sacrifice so much in the name of what is just, and what are we willing to do in support of them?
It is from the portal of Shireen Issawi that we can view the devastating effects of so many Palestinians currently imprisoned under similar conditions. Perhaps you might imagine your own Sister, Daughter, or Mother arrested, knowing she is innocent but entirely unable to help her, and the World is mostly silent. Indeed Shireen stands in for hundreds of thousands of Political Prisoners all over this Planet, in Burma, Bahrain, Egypt, China, Eritrea, Mexico, here in the US, and in almost every Country across the Globe. As citizens of the World, I hope we will feel obligated and committed to using whatever small tools we may have to denounce such abundant injustice, despite the complications, despite our fears about entering into the realms of Israel and Palestine, despite the ease and lure of keeping quiet and tending our own lives.
In this case, we at Roots to Resistance, a small Arts and Social Justice Organization, make our offerings to those who have long been seeking and fighting for Justice on issues in Palestine. We have painted an 8 foot high Portrait of Shireen and created a Global Postcard Campaign Demanding her Freedom and an end to the US funding that perpetuates conditions of Occupation across Palestine. Most importantly we have partnered with dozens of Organizations and hundreds of Peoples from all over the World to create A Global Sign Campaign Demanding Freedom For Shireen Issawi. The Organizations and People involved in the campaign may not speak with one voice when it comes to all of the issues involved with Palestine and Israel, but we do speak as one about the absolute demand for Shireen’s release from prison.
The Global Sign Campaign is an initiative asking folks from all over the Planet to send pictures of themselves holding signs Demanding Freedom For Shireen Issawi. In the end we have gathered over 150 with more arriving each day. Our goal in this endeavor was to invite all voices to demand Justice, not just the politicized or those well versed in the talking points of the Middle East.The invitation was for all to join because we think that a movement filled with a diversity of opinions but one voice on Shireen is the strongest way forward. Please come visit and enjoy the gallery of beautiful faces on our campaign page. If you would like to add your own picture to our Global Sign Campaign please send your submissions on to us: email@example.com
Many of those who sent pictures and signs also sent answers to a question we posed: “Why is it important for you to be involved in the Campaign Demanding Freedom For Shireen Issawi? “ Below are some of the answers beginning with a statement from the two Organizations working together to win Shireen’s Freedom.
“Shireen Issawi’s case is emblematic in highlighting how Palestinian human rights defenders are being targeted by Israeli authorities for arrest and prolonged detention due to peacefully working to protect and promote fundamental human rights. Ms. Issawi has now been held continuously in detention for nearly 19 months pending the outcome of her trial. We reiterate our call for the evidence relied upon by the Israeli authorities to indict Ms. Issawi to be subjected to rigorous examination and testing, in accordance with Israel’s duty under international human rights law to protect Ms. Issawi’s right to a fair trial.
Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights of the UK and Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Ramallah Palestine
“Shireen has dedicated her life to justice and freedom for those Palestinian arbitrarily detained in Israel. She is a courageous and inspiring human rights defender who comes from a family committed to nonviolent resistance. The accusations held against her of supporting “terrorism” are ludicrous. She became a lawyer precisely because she believed the path to peace must be based on the protection of human rights and justice.” Ines Osman Alkarama Foundation, Switzerland
“The imprisonment of human rights lawyer and activist Shireen Issawi is yet another stain on Israel’s grim record of severe violations of human rights and international law and conventions. It is a gross miscarriage of justice, and should be terminated at once.” Noam Chomsky, US
“I felt compelled to support the call to free Shireen after learning about her deep passion for supporting human rights. As a veteran of two recent wars – I fully appreciate the heart and soul she has put in her struggle (and consequent imprisonment) to allow the freedoms we all deserve. Although we may do it in different ways, we share the need and passion to serve our fellow humans – in hopes of obtaining what is the basic rights of all humans on our wonderful planet. “ MSgt David Beaudet, USAF, Ret, B.S.
“I support this because we cannot let fear and confusion run our lives. Israel will not be safe until Palestine is free and Palestine will not be free until Israel is safe. As a Jew, I find it is critically important to take a stand against atrocities that are being committed towards Palestinian People. Shireen Issawi should be free. Free to live her life and speak her mind.” Rachel, Massachusetts
“Hope springs from the lives of people like Shireen Issawi, who strive non-violently for the freedom of political prisoners. Her dedication to that cause was recognized in December when the president of PeaceWomen across the Globe awarded her (in absentia) the AlKarama Award for Human Rights. Then, as now, Shireen was locked behind bars in an Israeli prison with those for whose freedom she has devoted her efforts. Should we not also recognize Shireen’s dedication and call for her release from prison and for the release of all non-violent political prisoners?”
Paul , New York
“It is important for me to be involved in the campaign Demanding Freedom For Shireen Issawi because justice must be universal. Justice for Shireen and all other administrative detainees must be immediate with freedom granted or charges laid. Administrative Detention is an usually cruel and inhumane practice and must be condemned. If a simple inhumane law like “Administrative Detention” cannot be overturned what hope for true justice for Palestine. Free Shireen and the other prisoners.”
Nasser, Victoria Australia
“ In our work with people in Gaza, we have been told repeatedly that the issue of the prisoners is a vital one for the entire Palestinian resistance movement that cuts across political divides. Shireen Issawi like all political prisoners needs to know that she is not forgotten and that she is in our hearts.” Rafah Sister City Project, Madison, Wisconsin
“We support human rights and all those like Shireen Issawi who are working for Human Rights.” Davis Committee For Palestinian Rights, California
“Why is it important for us to be involved?!
Well , if we can do not much – this we can ! We can give our voice for the People which have no voice right now ! Shireen Issawi and her Family suffer because they are Palestinians who fight for their rights! We will stand with them! Free all political prisoners!”
BDS Zurich, Switzerland
Shireen Issawi has been punished, not for committing a crime, but for daring to defend human rights and free speech in the face of a brutal occupation. Her arrest an incarceration show how threatening these basic values are to the Israeli occupation. Palestine Advocacy Project, Cambridge
Shireen Issawi and her family have been relentlessly persecuted by Israel for over two decades. The imprisonment of Shireen is another deep and brutal injustice for her and her family that is representative of how Israel attempts to quell and punish righteous rebellion against its many decades of systematic apartheid and ethnocide. Israel must release Shireen and the over-5,000 political prisoners it holds and tortures, remember that compassion is the essence of life, and abandon its current course.
Alisa Klein Massachusetts
“ It’s about empathy, I live in Mexico, Mexico is a corrupt country and where the law favors the powerful, I can be arrested arbitrarily to defend my people as has happened to Shireen, she defended her brother and she has defended political prisoners in Palestine, but who defends her? If I lived the case of Shireen, I wanted someone to defend my case, someone to talk to the world about the injustices that I live and that my people live, is my reason to get involved in the campaign to demand the liberation of Shireen Issawi, empathy and solidarity with someone who has fought for the Palestinian people without asking anything in exchange.” Ana Rosa Moreno Puebla, Mexico
“I strongly support the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that was adopted by the UN in 1948. As a person who believes in human and civil rights and human dignity, Palestinian lawyer Shireen Al Issawi,is a shining example of courage, perseverance, and determination in striving to achieve justice for Palestinians who have suffered an ugly and brutal military occupation for 48 years. She has been unjustly imprisoned and I call on all those leaders who say they endorse human rights to act to free Shireen Issawi and the Palestinian people from the prison they currently endure.”
Will Thomas New Hampshire Veterans for Peace
I am in involved in the Campaign Demanding Freedom For Shireen Issawi, as I am involved in all the campaigns related to Palestinian political prisoners, because the issue of Israel’s mass incarceration of Palestinians is at the heart of Palestinian resistance and struggle for liberation.
I support the campaign to demand freedom for Shireen Issawi because she is simply asking for truth and justice for Palestinian prisoners. This should not be a lot to ask of the Israeli government. The fact that this government considers this inflammatory and unacceptable, to the point that they have kept Shireen imprisoned and silenced, demonstrates the brutality and irrationality of the Israeli regime and occupation. Shireen’s fight is a fight to return humanity to her fellow Palestinian citizens, and it is emblematic of all brave activists around the world fighting for the humanity of all oppressed peoples. Shireen Issawi must be freed! Natascia Pica, Massachusetts
“Free speech and justice should be global rights” Kate, Massachusetts
“The world must demand release of all prisoners held by Israel in violation of international law!” Joyce, Germantown Wisconsin
Thank you ! Thank you, Shireen Issawi, for your brilliance and courage and perserverance! Michael, Colorado
Please add your voice and hearts to this call for Justice. Join Us! Remember to click + Follow on this blog so we can keep you updated on Shireen! For more on Roots To Resistance and this campaign please visit our website.
Frances Crowe turned 96 last week. 96 Years which brought her along the way to where she stands now, a Woman who in the last 4-5 decades has gathered all of her efforts into the service of Peace. In 2014 I painted the 8 foot high Portrait of Frances Crowe, beginning in the early Summer months and completing the Portrait as the year turned. I wanted to enter into a deep investigation of what qualities and experiences might create a person who uses so much of their lives almost exclusively in the service of something as elusive as Peace. I also wanted to revisit and recommit myself to this Justice Movement known as Peace, in a way that did not look back nostalgically to the 60’s and 70’s but which brought Peace fully into this time as one of the most important issues intersecting with all others. I think honestly I had written off Peace as something that would never coexist with us in this age and perhaps not in those after it. I doubt Frances spends much time in dreamy pondering as this Artist so often does, she is on the move, in action even when she is standing still.
I recently joined a Peace march that walked from Amherst to Northampton and I walked and talked with an Activist from Vermont who was a friend and colleague of Frances. Apparently, recently in a newsletter of some sort, it was incorrectly reported that Frances had passed on and this friend cried and grieved and then decided to call Frances Crowe’s number so he could hear her voice one last time. To his immense surprise Frances answered but had no time for trivial talking about her reported death and launched directly into ideas for an upcoming Anti Nuclear Initiative. This pretty much encompasses what I know of Frances, she has a single mind toward this work and it amazes me. As a dedicated Libra, I don’t seem to be able to have a single and forceful mindset toward these issues. There is the constant weighing, balancing, Juggling, considering and questioning. Especially present is questioning of why what I think and believe is so certainly the right thing. This is why I am painting these Women, Frances, Shireen, Malalai, Rebecca. They have a kind of unapologetic certainty, a knowing faith and profound dedication to their work that makes them so very powerful.
I had the privilege of spending some time with Frances this Summer as I worked on her Portrait. I don’t paint from life, this is not my talent but I spent time looking with Frances through her dozens of scrapbooks which documented all of the Social Justice Movements that she has been a part of. We had tea and talked about the scrapbooks, the Women’s March, The Anti Apartheid Movement, Abolishing the Nuclear Plants and Weapons, Palestine and the Occupied Territories, Wall Street and of course we talked about Democracy Now. For those of you who do not know, Frances brought the daily radio news show, Democracy Now to the valley by force 🙂 She pirated the station from her own home for a couple of years and then put immense pressure on local Public/College Radio to carry it. In many ways from hearing her talk, I see that it is one of her proudest accomplishments and I for one am grateful for it Monday-Friday!
In creating this Portrayal of Frances I used her stories to fuel narratives and her essence to create the tone of the Portrait. I used my growing inspiration and reconnection to the Peace and Anti Nuclear movement to depict the collective rising and the intensity of feelings that swell and emanate from such a collective. I painted deep ancestors under the Earth, skeletons and bones with messages for us, Frances and Paki raising fists and singing, missiles and weapons wrapped in their terrible intentions, cocoons and butterflies, snakes, beets, owls and turtles, Peace is not just for Humankind. The Portrait is packed with many stories, many ideas and many who call out and reach out to those who will take the time to stand and see. The point of course is to see and honor this life of Frances Crowe, a beautiful life, but the point is also to not stop there. Be moved, connected and inspired, and let that take you somewhere!
Below is the Postcard that was created to both honor Frances Crowe and to carry forward the work that is so important to her. The tone and message of the card was chosen by Frances and I implemented it as she suggested. This Postcard is very timely because in May of this year 191 governments, relevant international agencies, and scores of civil society organizations will convene at the United Nations in New York to review and assess, for the eighth time, the implementation of the Treaty on the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. This Postcard, pre-addressed to Secretary Ban Ki Moon, Ambassador Samantha Power and President Barack Obama, demands that the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty abides by its promises to work toward the security of a World free from Nuclear Weapons, as it is the only sane course to be taken. 5000+ Postcards were translated and sent to our Global Partners across the Planet. Several Thousand more are in the hands of those who left Amherst on Saturday from the Leverett Peace Pagoda, walking to Washington DC in a quest to demand Peace.
Below this Postcard image is the text printed on it’s back. We offer them free to all who will carry and pass them forward. Gratitude to Frances Crowe, The Delegation Of Peace Walkers and all who funded this campaign and helped make this possible. Special thanks to the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts and the Proteus Fund. xo
In Honor Of Peace and Justice Activist Frances Crowe
In May 2015, 191 governments, relevant international agencies, and scores of civil society organizations will convene at the United Nations in New York to review and assess, for the eighth time, the implementation of the Treaty on the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Collectively Nuclear armed nations spend over 100 billion dollars a year to sustain these weapons which bring an unspeakable threat to every Community on the Planet.
We the People state that the true nature of Nuclear Weapons is in their potential to destroy all of life on Planet Earth. We believe that no Nation has the right to create, hold or use such weapons for any reason. We take a stand here and demand that the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty abides by its promises to work toward the security of a World free from Nuclear Weapons, as it is the only sane course to be taken.
We are occupying the Planet with this renewed statement calling for the ban and elimination of all Nuclear Weapons and I personally have added my name below in support of this demand.
This is a beautiful and important article written by Syrian Activist Razan Ghazzawi.
My latest article on Razan Zaitouneh published yesterday on OpenDemocracy:
Between me and Razan there are those tiny stories that do not belong to and cannot be classified as one of those typical close relationships between friends. We weren’t friends. To me, she was the woman whose path is always crossing mine, a hard working woman who values human life more than any other values favored by other humans. She believes everyone is equal and everyone deserves the same treatment from law. Razan is a true human rights activist who doesn’t just write statements, but actually commits to advocating human rights and equality in her daily life.
Razan cannot be racist, sexist, Islamophobic, homophobic or carry a prejudice, she only targets abusers. An abuser is he who commits a form of injustice against another. Period. Razan’s idea of human life is this simple, and it’s quite admirable to see…
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Hello to all and gratitude to you for taking the time to read the blog. I honestly do not know how you found the time 🙂 and truly I appreciate it.
I am reporting back to you after completing our 9th Portrait of the Syrian Activist Razan Ghazzawi. We partnered with Syrian Students, Activists and with Underground Syrian Art Collective Masasit Mati to create three Postcards that would support Peace and Justice for the Syrian People. We printed thousands of Postcards and translated them into French, Spanish and Arabic and sent them to Burma, Cameroon, South Africa, Bolivia, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Lebanon, Afghanistan, France, Sweden, DR Congo, UK, Thailand, Mexico, Portugal, Canada and across the US! We continue to raise the funds to print and send to more partners in more places on this Planet and we will continue to support and Partner with Razan and every Community seeking Justice where they live!
Portrait number ten is a supreme honor for me and is of a Woman who resides in my own Community, the amazing Peace and Justice Activist Frances Crowe of the US.
For any of you who do not know Frances Crowe, she is a Woman who has been on this Planet for more than nine decades and she has been on the streets for more than fifty years demanding Peace, Justice, Accountability and offering in return Persistence, Hope, Resistance and a Raised Voice. If you ever feel you need a break from the hard news, the grim details of what is being perpetrated on the People of this Planet, spend some time with Frances and you will leave feeling you are not doing enough listening, and must double down your efforts. Frances in her 95th year is alert to every Resistance Movement, every call for Peace, every demand for Justice, she is always there at every rally, every vigil, every film. She has spearheaded organizations like AFSC and the Traprock Peace Center and stood on the forefront of Resistance to Nuclear Weapons and Power Plants here in the US.
The Frances Crowe Portrait is under way and Frances and I will be partnering to create Global Campaigns which will support the Justice work and messaging that she wants to see passed forward into the World. More on how to support that in the coming paragraphs!
A brief word here on a very big shift in this project. Up until now Roots To Resistance has been a project about 12 specific Women that were chosen back in 2009 on the basis of the amazing and often profoundly risky work they were doing in places across the Planet. We have painted many of those Women who were chosen, beginning with Natalia Estemirova from Chechnya and following with Malalai Joya, Chouchou Namegabe, The Zapatista Women, Rebecca Gomperts, Wangari Maathai, Aung San Suu Kyi and Yvonne Margarula. What an amazing list and with so many yet to come. The original plan was to paint the 12 chosen Women and partner with them to create 12 Global Campaigns and to end there with a giant cross country tour in a big bus. But things have been changing…..
Last Summer I was approached by folks who wanted to bring attention to the Resistance Movement in Syria by having a Syrian Activist included in the Roots To Resistance Project. An amazing Activist by the name of Razan Ghazzawi came to the forefront and thus we painted someone not on that list of 12 originals. It felt very right to be creating something in the moment that would and could impact and support a movement so profoundly important and so current and since then I have been doing a great deal of thinking about bending and opening the scope of Roots.
I am starting the walk down a new path of Roots. The new path has no beginning and no perceived end. Perhaps there will be twenty Portraits, maybe fifty. Many names are being nominated every day, as there are so many amazing Activists, so many important campaigns. From here on in we will pick and paint on the basis of the most important Activism and campaigns happening in the World today, and of considerations of the many Women who are being nominated to me as we speak. I am looking for a permanent place to house the Portraits which will become a museum of sorts, but much more. What I do know is that I am currently painting the amazing Peace Activist Frances Crowe. After that I have decided to paint a Palestinian Activist as I have had more than half a dozen Women from Gaza and the Occupied Territories nominated,and because the profound importance of such a campaign is glaring.
Not to worry folks! I will be painting Vandana Shiva and Marina Silva. Their time is near as well 🙂
So that is where Roots To Resistance is heading. A more permanent fixture with more flexibility and a lot more Portraits! I will be honest folks, I am going to need serious help 🙂 The Postcards, The Printing, The mailings, I cannot tell you how successful, how connective and important they have become. We make do on very small Funds from many generous folks but we can increase that outreach with a bit more support. This is a small project and it is never meant to become big or blockbuster. Part of the magic is in it’s small scope and I want to keep it so, but I want to stretch and reach a little further. To do this and to find a permanent space for this project I will be hosting some Fundraising Events this Fall. I will be doing an event which will include Film, Art, Wine Tasting and Fall Harvest Foods and I am gearing up for an Indiegogo campaign as well. More on all the details as they arrive.
In the meantime if you want to help us start plugging with our Frances Crowe Campaign you can support us here: Roots Support
Please know I am grateful to all of you who have supported this project, the Women and the Campaigns. Thanks so much for taking the time. ❤