My American Internment
An online human rights art exhibition
The Indigenous People of North America. German-Americans. Japanese-Americans. Italian-Americans. Guantanamo Bay. Immigrant Children.
The American Government is no stranger to internment camps.
“My American Internment” is an online human rights exhibition designed to document the United States’ willingness to place its own citizens and those arriving at the borders looking for asylum into internment camps. Through art, the exhibition creates a collective cultural memory and social commentary on the actions of the U.S. Government. The exhibition features the work of four distinct artists.
The exhibition opened on July 4, 2018, the 242nd anniversary of the approval of the wording of the United States’ Declaration of Independence. The exhibition will close July 31, 2018. A digital exhibition catalogue collecting the images will be available after the exhibition closes.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
– The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776
TOLERANCE BY OPPRESSION
Wet Plate Collodion
Each and every day the world is filled with millions and millions of digital photographs that have no value, character, significance or physical form. That is not the case with a wet plate. The wet plate process is magical and the end result is tangible and precious.
Digital photography of today relies on technology. Wet plate photography relies on 160 year old chemistry, a bit of magic, and some luck. I think it is very important that as technology moves forward, we embrace and continue to celebrate and not forget important processes from the past. Wet plate photography is one of those processes. I am very proud to be the only person pouring wet plates in the state of North Dakota at this time. Every time I show someone the wet plate process, they are absolutely amazed regarding the ability to get a photograph using some chemicals and pieces of glass that I cut by hand.
“Northern Plains Native Americans: A Modern Wet Plate Perspective” is by far my most important work. My goal is to capture 1000 Native Americans over the next 20 years. I have met so many fabulous people on this journey and I am forming bonds and friendships that will last me throughout my life. It is important for me to not only document their heritage but to give respect to a people that that have been mistreated in so many ways. I consider this an honor and I will do everything that I can to put my friends in the best light possible.
I created this piece because of multiple reasons, but ultimately, society’s treatment of children was my main inspiration. Whenever news broke about the separation of immigrant children from their parents, I felt sadness and anger because these children should not be ripped from their parents. As a mother myself, I could not handle my child being ripped from me, and as many immigrant parents, I would do whatever it took to be able to offer my daughter a better life. Additionally, many individuals from social media expressed their opinions about this issue and I was ashamed at the apathy many individuals expressed toward these children.
This apathy coupled with Jacob Lawrence’s piece “Ambulance” sparked an idea on how I wanted to handle my own emotions. I painted a childlike painting of children from various racial backgrounds dressed in prions suits. I chose many races because not only does my heart break for the children of immigrants, but children in the foster care system, abusive homes, human trafficking, and poverty.
As an educator, I witness many dark sides to humanity and their treatment to children. I chose not to draw mouths because adults are acting as their voice. I painted 1,2,3 on their prison suits because children should be learning their 1,2,3s and A,B,Cs along with being innocent. Unfortunately, society has removed the innocence of many children. I want anyone looking at this piece to recognize the importance of children.
Oil on Canvas
Emotions can hurt. Physical pain hurts.
I wanted to create a piece of art that focuses on those and leaves you wondering what can happen next.
ALL ROADS LEAD TO FREEDOM
“All Roads Lead to Freedom,” is symbolic about the pursuit of freedom in America.
On a recent trip, my flight was delayed at Chicago O’Hare Airport and I was intrigued by how the design in Gate H, relates to the current issue of Mexican internment camps. The American Flags are symbolic of American Freedom and the pursuit of happiness, the world globe and its glowing lights symbolic of welcoming all who come, and the metal pipe ceiling arch symbolic of the camps that separate or confine families.
The question we should ask ourselves as a country, “Are we doing our part as the human family to keep refugee families together and to build a road that leads to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness?”
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Shane BalkowitschShane Balkowitsch is a non-photographer taking on the historic wet plate collodion process. He has used his lens and his chemicals to capture Native Americans for his series “Northern Plains Native Americans: A Modern Wet Plate Perspective”.
Learn more at Balkowitsch.com
Kayla BranstetterKayla is a high school English teacher for Purdy High School in Purdy, Missouri, writer, and graduate student of the Master of Liberal Studies in Art, Literature, and Culture program at University of Denver.
Her writing and photography has been published in Ozark Hills and Hollows, a regional magazine focusing on local culture. In the past, her poetry has been published in bordertown, a literary journal for Missouri Southern State University. Recently, her creative nonfiction piece, “Graduation,” was published in the Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review in June of 2018. Kayla’s art collection, “Silent Spring Awakens”, was published in The Esthetic Apostle in May of 2018, and my art collection “Excuse Me” was published in the gyara journal. She lives in Purdy, Missouri with her husband, Chris, and daughter, Berlin.
Avery NubsonMy art is about emotion. I want the viewer to feel something after see my paintings, it could be positive, negative, leave them with an uncomfortable feeling… as long as they feel something and work through those emotions.
Art is about healing and expression. As an artist I work through my own emotions, thoughts and feelings to come to a clearer place.
Scott SeilerScott Seiler is a life-long North Dakota resident, who grew up on a ranch near Raleigh. This is where farming and experiencing the prairie created many wonderful memories.
Seiler is a fine art landscape photographer and his perspective has been shaped by his love of rural architecture and cropland. His landscapes are often populated with fields of fortitude or iconic structures that dot the prairie.
He positions his camera and uses what’s in front of him, perhaps the parallel lines of a barn roof or those of a barb wired fence, to lead the viewer’s eye toward the vanishing point, helping to underscore the vastness of the landscape.
Seiler is currently a partner member at Gallery 4, has been an Arts Partnership ‘Artist in Residence’ recipient at TMI Hospitality and Myriad Mobile, and a former FMVA Board Member. He currently resides in Fargo and is a senior marketing specialist.
Learn more at ScottSeiler.net
"My American Internment" ONLINE HUMAN RIGHTS ART EXHIBITION NOW OPEN. The online human rights exhibition "My American Internment" has opened. The exhibition may be viewed at Human-Family.org. “My American Internment” is an online human rights exhibition designed...
Submissions open for "My American Internment". Submissions are now being accepted for The Human Family's arts exhibition, "My American Internment". The Indigenous People of North America. German-Americans. Japanese-Americans. Italian-Americans. Guantanamo...