Hello to my loyal group of Blog followers! Apologies for the long break between now and my previous blog as I have been ferociously painting away in my efforts to complete the Portrait of Aung San Suu Kyi! I am thrilled to say that her Portrait is done and pictured below!
So, this blog will be dedicated to giving a brief little peek into what I am doing in the months between beginning a new Portrait and it’s corresponding campaigns and those final days when I post the pictures declaring “The Portrait is done”.
How do these Paintings start? Do I have them mapped out ahead of time? Most definitely not. They build slowly, like a puzzle I am creating as I go,image off of tiny image, I fit the puzzle pieces in one by one. Perhaps the whole Portrait starts with one tiny butterfly as it did in Aung San Suu Kyi’s and then explodes forth from there. That said, the Portraits have common threads. All of the Women stand in the center of their Portraits generally surrounded by other images that define and support them and their work, their lives, their feelings and mine. I paint all of this directly on the eight foot wooden panels and in greater part on pieces of paper which are then collaged onto the wood(the puzzle pieces). The Natural World plays a central role in every Portrait, for both the Women who are profoundly linked to Nature as well as those who may not think of themselves this way. As many know, I do not believe we can have wholly successful movements of any kind with out a full intimate partnership with the Plants, Rocks and Creatures of this Planet and so the Nature is there to support the Women and it is there because it means so much to me. I am an avid Woods walker and hiker and spend some part of every day out on the trails. Many of the things I see there end up in this work.
My materials: wood, pencils, acrylics, watercolor paint and paper, lots of paper. I work standing at my studio table, the same one that the amazing Tammy Stacy built for me 16 years ago. I try to paint 8-10 hour days four times a week and one or two 4-6 hour days.
The rest of my efforts are directed toward researching the Histories of the places where these 12 Women Activist are doing their work, understanding the issues and the challenges they are addressing and listening to the people intimately involved so that I may come to understand a way that Roots To Resistance can support this work and support the voices of these Communities. In my last campaign for Aung San Suu Kyi this meant reading everything I could find written about Burma, its History, the History of Aung San Suu Kyi, and most importantly the History of the over 100 different Ethnic Peoples living there. It meant a lot of emailing. Thousands upon thousand of emails were sent out to People who have lived and worked in Burma. People with a great deal of knowledge about Burma and most importantly Indigenous People living in Burma and experiencing the challenges first hand. As always language plays a part in the challenges faced in corresponding with People in many places on the Planet. I do not speak Burmese or any of the other 100+ Indigenous languages spoken in Burma so I depend humbly and gratefully upon those who speak English and can bring these questions to their Communities. These are the People that make these campaigns possible.
Being that I am a White Woman from the West I have stumbled into predictable ways of thinking about change, being helpful, concepts of victims and perpetrators and conflict resolution, but I am learning and listening and noticing. I recently noticed how this came into play as I was trying to grasp the changing landscape within Burma and how it was affecting Indigenous minority groups there. ( For those like me who hear the phrase ‘Ethnic Minority’ groups so often that the words loses meaning, it is a good practice to remember that these are groups of Indigenous People who belong profoundly to the places that they live>In Burma Indigenous groups prefer to be called Ethnic Nationals) I had been for many weeks deducing that the main issue in Burma that needed addressing was the physical violence being perpetrated against many Indigenous minorities in Burma, particularly the Rohingya People who recently had an entire village burned to the ground. From my outside view this was the pressing issue and it is certainly of profoundly critical importance, but there is such a complex web of issues which support such violence.When I began to read more reports written by Youth Workers who lived in these Communities I found that time and again they felt that the main issue to be addressed was the violence of complete non inclusion. Most Ethnic Indigenous People in Burma are not even given the most basic rights to participate in decisions about their Homes, development on their Lands and about the resources which belong to their Lands and to them. These are the pressing issues that they feel separate them from any possible dreams of a Democratic Burma, as the race for resources, gas, dams, rubies(yes rubies Burma has more than anyone else) races toward them. So I think we have a Postcard Campaign here and I am grateful to the Youth Workers for speaking their truths and for translating them into the one language I can read. *Gratitude*
I hope I have given my friends and followers enough of a peek. I paint, hike, sketch little ideas in my tiny idea books, research and more research, and go through my daily meditations about how to keep calm about funds and little by little keep raising money for this project.
To clarify: Why do I sometimes use the word *we* when I speak about the Roots To Resistance Project? Most people know that the Art, research, and Global Campaigns contained in this project are created by me, Denise Beaudet the Artist. This much is true. However the Roots To Resistance Project is powered by so many People. The 12 Women Activists who’s work inspired this project, the People I correspond with around the Globe who help me to understand histories and issues, the Organizations who partner with Roots To Resistance to bring Postcards and Street Posters across the Planet, the People who translate these materials into the languages of the World, the People who have helped me with fundraisers and funds, and my much loved Friends and Family who have supported me through years of Roots To Resistance events and milestones. WE!
I am happy to answer any questions anyone may have about this project and I would be *very* grateful to receive feedback, ideas, brainstorms and offers of help:)
Please pass this on to others if you have enjoyed it because it makes me smile when People join my blog 🙂 For more information on this project: http://www.denisebeaudet.com/ or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org