“The problem is, these women look normal.”

It’s an eerie day in Colorado as we greeted the arrival of our second bomb cyclone. The day started rainy, gray, and foggy with an impending sense of doom and eventually turned to a heavy wet snow which is much more appropriate for a bleak midwinter than an early spring. The gloomy weather hanging over my home seems the appropriate time to reflect on events that occurred on March 26, 2018 on the northern coast of California, sometime in the early hours of the morning.

This is a story about abuse, neglect, and murder, and it’s been eating at me for quite some time. I had to collect my thoughts, and the point of posting them is to call attention to this case, to these kids, to what they experienced and why they experienced it, and to the forces that intertwined to create a situation in which they never got the help they desperately needed and were desperately seeking.

TW: Tough subject matter ahead. Read at your own discretion.

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Constructing identities

I spent some time at the Denver Art Museum last week, and one of the current exhibits is a landscape exhibit which, according to the DAM, will show how various artists have blurred “the distinction between ‘observed’ and ‘constructed’ imagery.”

Observed vs. constructed is an interesting binary. Has the artist who took this simple (yet stunning) photograph below merely created something we can observe? Or is there an element of construction there?

One could certainly observe and move on. But I think the fact that the photo is in muted tones and that an image was chose that features an asymmetrical breaking wave is an element of construction. It makes me feel like I’m looking at a wild, stormy ocean. It’s beautiful, but fearsome. It should be admired, but also respected.

I would even argue that the color of the wall that the DAM chose to hung it on adds to/emphasizes that construction. Would the photo have felt different if it was hung on the beige wall instead of the gray one? What if it was hung on a red wall? Does that change the context?

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Throwing out sparks

For many of us who live in the U.S., this is a frightening time. I feel the ball of anxiety tightening in my chest everyday, triggering a queasy feeling, an uneasiness that hovers around me. My concern for this country and the people in it is at unprecedented levels – I am, at times, actually breathless when I consider the possibilities that the next few years could bring.

It has not been a surprise that I find myself turning more toward the arts, both to soothe me and to energize me.

Art and literature have, at many times throughout history, been sources of subversiveness and protest. And so I write furiously, building a story that was born from my anxiety and anger. It’s one of those tiny sparks of hope that I have, that some humans respond to calls for conformity and oppression by creating something non-conformist and sharing it with others.

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