February 22–March 28, 2019
Otis Street Arts Project: 3706 Otis St, Mt Rainier, MD 20712
Artists: Claudia Vess, Ellyn Weiss, Erwin Timmers, Gregg Hannan, Glenn Richardson, Jacqui Crocetta, Scott Brooks, Wayson Jones and Yar Koporulin
“The Wall,” seems to be on everyone’s mind lately. What are walls, what do they accomplish and how do we as a society perceive the word wall? Walls can be used as protection, prisons, barriers that keep others out or keep us locked in. Walls can isolate and further divide us from what we have in common. Or a wall can simply be a nice place to hang a painting. Curator Molly Rupert poses these questions to a select group of artists.
Opening Reception: Friday, February 22, 7-10 PM
Wall Smashing Party March 9th 7-10 PM. Come join us for a night of listening to Pink Floyd while smashing down Glenn Richardson’s Border Wall.
My installation, Root (Up), is included in this exhibit. I created it as part of my Elle Peace Project, in response to Mily’s story:
Mily, an immigrant from El Salvador, is no stranger to adversity, but that hasn’t kept her from becoming a community organizer—to help other immigrant moms establish roots in Montgomery County, Md.
Mily’s group of moms (nearly 200 members and their families) gathers together for an English conversation program and classes on a wide range of other topics such as nutrition, CPR and Zumba. Group walks and family events are also organized for the group. The group partners with a local church and members of a nearby continuing care retirement community. Both organizations provide meeting spaces and other resources. Mily works odd jobs when she can get them, to raise funds to support her community work.
When mothers are too fearful of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or gangs to leave their homes and let their children play outside, Mily gets involved. She knows that if she can convince them to join the other mothers and families, the connection of community can help alleviate their signs of depression and help them to thrive. Mily is committed to helping her community in any way that she can. Helping other immigrant families to establish roots has become her life’s mission and what makes her happiest.
About the Work
The root ball at the top references the many challenges most immigants face. The roots are all painted the same color to indicate the generalizations often made about immigrants. The stacked wall pavers are symbolic of the back-breaking, sometimes dangerous and often times tedius and unpleasant occupations held by many immigrants. The circle of rocks, roots and driftwood at the bottom, represents the community of immigrant mothers and families Mily has built and nurtured. Designs are drawn on many of the rocks in white acrylic ink. The drawings are patterns and symbols that reference migration, dreams and motifs from different cultures.