About Roots2re

I was trained as a Printmaker at Greenfield Community College and Hartford Art School and have since become a painter. In these last 25 years of making art, I have moved away from a gallery focus and toward making and showing art for Communities and Community spaces. I have come to believe in the importance of Art that is made to be shared in the places we live, on the streets we walk, and in our everyday lives. In these many years I have learned that all of my experiences, loves, nightmares, adventures, quandaries and questions are exquisite fuel for my work. Living fully and bringing that full life to my Art is the nature of my process. Over the years I have formed a deep connection and love of the natural world; the woods, mountains, creatures and dirt. The recognition of this symbiotic relationship between the human and non human planet and its profound importance has become a central theme in my work. In recent years, I have begun to focus on the interweaving of social justice and these connections and disconnections to our natural world. In my Art I am using these ties and bonds to nature and creatures as a support to lift up those involved in the struggles for social justice. As bugs, bats, vines, eggs, seeds, fish, owls, trees and bones mix and intertwine in my work, they connect us to the planet and to each other, they loop into lungs and out of mouths and they tie everything together. My Art is the lens through which I am trying to understand this world and I hope the work I create can offer others the possibility of exploration into their own connections and relationships with the earth, their activism, and our global community

Frances Crowe’s Portrait-Reclaiming The Peace Movement, Disarming The Planet

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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

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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.

Name___________________________________________________________
State____________________________________________________________
Town/City________________________________________________________

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Razan and I | OpenDemocracy

This is a beautiful and important article written by Syrian Activist Razan Ghazzawi.

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My latest article on Razan Zaitouneh published yesterday on OpenDemocracy:

10172824_691852620878867_7378733230773807252_nBetween 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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Syria, Gaza, Frances Crowe And A New Direction For Roots2Resistance

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!

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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.

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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. ❤

Denise/Roots

Kali’s Legacy

A Blog Post From A Syrian Voice Who Has Lived And Continues To Live Through And Speak About Power, History, Her Experiences and The Peaceful Revolution Which Is Mostly Untold Or Poorly Reported On In The West. Please Read As Razan’s Words Are Very Powerful And Profoundly Important.

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I lived. Past tense. I lived nine months in a place called Nomy. Nomy was a strange town, I have to say. But that’s not what I want to talk about today.

I left Nomy four months ago. Past tense. It should be over by now, you know, the memories – good or bad. But those memories are called as such because of present tense. The old reality becomes new after leaving. Here is a new territory, your mind is working daily to accumulate new memories. The old memories are not so much old, they’re still alive with me in my speech, temper, I even developed new fakeness in my character. Most of all, those old memories are alive within me through my new semi-phobias.

In Nomy, there was no electricity, water nor any form of telecommunication. People use motorcycles and cars to reach that someone they want to talk…

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Razan Ghazzawi, Syria and The Roots To Resistance Women

I hadn’t planned to write this blog post today but the snow piling up outside has given me hope that some of you who are here in New England might have the time to read this. It is also not the kind of blog that I had planned to write but it is what has been on my mind.

I am always sifting through the same kinds of questions while I am painting, sending Postcards or putting up Street Posters. Am I doing this right?  Is it ok that I am doing it? Am I being careful enough about my own privilege? Am I sharing these movements objectively? Am I being sure not to be too heavy handed and preachy? Am I doing enough to help the Women I am portraying and working with? Are all of these questions holding me back? I guess it is good to have questions and perhaps it would be very bad news for all of us if we didn’t.

The campaign I am working on now as many of you know is for Syrian Civil Society and Justice Activist Razan Ghazzawi. I came to know of Razan through a Syrian friend Yasser who had worked here at Umass in the STPEC department and is now a Professor at Emerson out East. I had been following his posts about the Uprising in Syria and became very interested in finding a way to widen the conversation here about deeper truths in this Uprising than I felt we were getting from our media. We spoke about several Women Activists doing amazing work in Syria and I was immediately moved by Razan, at first because she had been detained several times for her Human Rights work, but it was in reading her blog entries that I realized her immense talent for conveying what was real and truthful. She has what many amazing Activists have which is a passion and authenticity that People want to connect to. So I decided to pursue having her on board as one of the amazing Women that I am painting and partnering with in order to tell the stories of the Resistance Movements they are a part of.

I was lucky enough to meet Razan in Boston about a month ago as before that we had been in contact over email and skype. I had learned she was leaving her work briefly to speak and raise funds for projects in Syria so I made arrangements to meet her. It really was an honor, Razan is truly a beautiful person and a fierce and honest Activist with real integrity. I was grateful to get to speak with her and to show her some of the Roots work and the Postcard I had created for general outreach about her and about the Syrian Uprising. I was elated that she was pleased with the Art and it’s message and that she was excited to work together brainstorming creative ways to support her Activism. Its just that I focus so intently on these Women, their stories and the faces I will be painting, so that when I meet them and form a connection it is a very high point for me. I am grateful for that.

I wanted to briefly address an issue that I know is out there in this Community and here in the West, particularly on the Liberal Left. About violence within Resistance Movements. About Guns, Revolutionaries, Pacifism. I have noticed that particularly with this campaign I am portraying in Syria that there are questions about the use of violence within the Uprising  versus non violence. “If we support the Uprising are we supporting the use of violence”? some People have asked. I am going to give you my opinion about this so you know where I am coming from. I believe that the question of Pacifism or use of arms to defend oneself or make change is a profoundly personal decision and very hard to assess when one has not been confronted with the extreme conditions that bring about the question. I have deep respect for so many movements: The Civil Rights Movement, The Zapatista Uprising, The Revolution in South Africa and the Uprising in Syria and all have used different paths. It is easy in retrospect to make heroes of all of these movements as can be seen with all of the Che Guevara Tshirts, love of Mandela and Zapatista Art but many of these movements were pushed to use force at some point in their struggles. Razan Ghazzawi is a Peaceful Activist doing amazing work within an Uprising full of many players, some who have chosen to use force as an option and who am I to judge that. I am shining a light on the Peoples Uprising, I am painting the Community Builders, Journalists, Human Rights Activists like Razan. I am sharing their story.

It is an odd thing to be painting a reality which is partially filled with so much pain, hardship and oppression that I am not a part of. That of Chouchou Namegabe and DR Congo,  Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma or Razan Ghazzawi and the Uprising in Syria. I am not telling my day to day story, I am trying to share the story, history and emotional essence of someone else. Maybe some would say I shouldn’t and that may be a valid consideration but I have decided to go ahead and try. I used to just paint for myself, maybe to try to heal old things but now I want to try to do something else with my Art, something cliche I suppose like make a difference and so be it, like many others before me I would like to do my best to be part of something greater that is outside of myself and my own needs.I think I have some talent for painting stories and telling the story of how things feel in the Art, so that is what I focus on when the inner questions come, the ones I started this blog with. They are good questions and I am sure mistakes will be made, have been made, but I am committed to this work and will just keep doing my best.

Gratitude. Denise/RootsSlide #9 Razan GhazzawiSAM_2489

Malalai Joya Visits! Our Food For Thought Event and Our New Work Together!

Two weeks ago we were profoundly honored with a visit from Roots Activist Malalai Joya. For those who do not know her, Malalai is one of the most important Peace and Justice Activists working in Afghanistan today. She tirelessly resists the War and Occupation, attacks on Women’s Rights, violence, corruption and warlords who have been handed authority over townships and Communities in Afghanistan.  As many know she has survived 7 assassination attempts not to mention a constant wave of aggression coming from those that she stands against. It would be easy to caricature her as fierce and fearless, a mythical Super heroine, after all , she is called the bravest Women in Afghanistan. That she is. However,  Malalai Joya like so many Activists is more than just her Activism,  she is a Mother, a member of her Family and Community, and a citizen of Afghanistan. She worries, faces many fears and feels the weight of a path that is chosen but very difficult. I feel very lucky and honored to call her a friend. She is profoundly kind, gracious, loving, likes to be silly, and yes she is fierce, strong, and profoundly effective at moving mountains. We spend a lot of time checking in about the challenges when I see her but also we laugh a lot. She amazes me. I feel exhausted from doing 5 events in a couple weeks while she speaks in a different state every night for months at a time. When she is at home she must stay in a different safe house every night because of the danger to her and to her Family. Can you imagine her concern for them? For her son?

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When she was here Malalai Joya and I had some time to talk about and work on the details of an additional Postcard campaign that will support her aims. We currently send Postcards that we created with Malalai demanding an end to the war and occupation in Afghanistan, around the World. The Postcards are pre-addressed to President Obama and the White House and a stream of them are sent each month from many corners of the Globe. Malalai and I are now creating an additional Postcard and Street Postering campaign to raise funds for a film she is working on called, A Woman Among Warlords. The film is a very important one, as it will be informing a World Community about the real truths and realities of the past and present Afghanistan through interviews and conversations with Malalai and with spoken experiences of the People, Families and Communities inside of Afghanistan. The film is important for many reasons but the ones Malalai sites have to do with bringing attention to Afghanistans forgotten People and bringing their true realities, their truths, to all.

The new Postcards bringing support for this Film, will be available this week so please be in touch if you would like to disperse some.

Malalai Joya is someone who deserves profound respect and the consideration of your support , and I pass on her gratitude to you for that.                                                          The link below will allow you to directly support Malalai and her new film:                               http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/malalai-joya

To learn more about how to support Malalai Joya please visit the site of her Defense Committee: http://www.malalaijoya.com/dcmj/

A great article written about the event by local media Organization Orangeink: http://orangeinkeducation.wordpress.com/2013/10/13/the-first-demand-of-my-people-is-justice-malalai-joya-comes-to-food-for-thought-books/

 Click here To learn more about the Roots To Resistance Project

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