Yesterday we left home early to drive to Macon GA and pick up my paintings from the Silent Voices exhibit at the 567 Center for Renewal. It's a 4 hour drive each way so I knew it was going to be a long day but I was excited to get there and hear about how the show went after the opening. I was only there for one night so Beth was there for me interacting with the public during the month of the show.
Artists have a job. Sometimes that job description is about beauty- sharing nature, bringing it indoors for us to enjoy and sometimes that job is about telling truths, provoking thought and emotion, waking people up, educating or making a statement about a particular societal problem. When you put paintings out there that tell a story - a painful, uncomfortable story - it can bring a huge range of responses so I was not at all surprised by the reactions to my work.
There were other first mothers who saw the show and were deeply affected. There were many tears as people related to the poetry and the images. Some of those who were just as deeply touched were coming from completely different experiences, some not even related to adoption at all but were still about loss in a big way.
Some people were curious about the meaning behind the paintings and wanted to learn more and some people were looking from an artistic standpoint.
To me the most interesting reactions were the ones from people reacting with anger. One person in particular was so upset by the images that he called it "crap" and didn't understand how that "shit" could be exhibited.
There was also a group of people very insulted and offended by my work. New City Church shares space in the building with the art center where the show was held. They were so offended in fact that they forced the art center to remove 3 of my paintings every weekend before their services and then they were displayed again afterwards. They censored my show every week in February. That's how uncomfortable the truth is to some people. Which pieces couldn't they handle? Of course the 3 in this post. Every week these paintings had to go into hiding.
Funny how these 3 were the most obvious about the corruption of the adoption industry. I could pour my heart out in the other pieces about the personal price that first mothers AND adoptees pay because of adoption but don't let anyone see anything negative about the industry or any religious connection to it. Do you think I touched a nerve? Do you think there might be more than a couple of adoptive parents in the church? Yes and yes.
It's certainly not my intention to go around insulting and offending people. Anyone who knows me, knows that. My intention is to share my personal story because it's also the story of millions of others like me and most of the general public doesn't know about this part of history. It's the truth for them and it's my truth. My other intention is to make people aware of the other truth- the one about the corruption in adoption. I wasn't merely sharing my opinion. I was stating facts in picture form. What's on those canvases is a visual representation of the facts.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but hiding the facts, being insulted by facts, being offended by facts, doesn't change a thing. The facts remain.
Adoption is a supply and demand business making $$$billions$$$ for an industry.
I was a little disappointed in the turn out for the opening reception last month but after hearing about the reactions of people since then I'd say I did my job. The work made more people aware and no matter what their reaction was it made them think about it.
I want to say a giant thank you to Beth Smith for curating the show and being there to answer questions and be my voice for the duration of the exhibit. She was not only my voice for the rest of the month but she was also able to add to the show with her own voice as an adoptee. Thank you a million times over for being so strong and taking the leap with me.