On May 25, 2020 George Floyd died after Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for several minutes. On the same day, Amy Cooper was in Central Park in New York City calling the police to say a black man was threatening her. Instead, the man, who happened to be black, was a birdwatcher who asked her to leash her dog as per law. These events, on top of a series of deaths of people of color at the hands of police sparked the Black Lives Matter movement. Protests erupted in cities and towns nation wide; Minneapolis, Minnesota, Portland Oregon, Seattle Washington and Washington DC being the most problematic. Donald Trump deployed the National Guard to fire upon these protestors.
On June 1, 2020 Donald Trump had a pathway cleared between the White House to Ashburton House, the parish house of St John’s Episcopal Church by having BLM protesters fired upon with rubber bullets and tear gas. This was so he could have a photo op holding up a bible he doesn’t read in front of the church he doesn’t go to. His daughter carried the bible in her designer bag and handed it to him when he arrived at his destination, and he hefted it up in one hand almost like holding a sack of potatoes. This action, coupled with events beginning on May 25, 2020 caused the firewall inside me that encases my baser emotions to rupture. Rage, hatred and a blood thirst for vengeance oozed out. The genie came out of the bottle and it wasn’t going to be easy to put it back in and slam the lid back on.
I created 6/1/20; A Sorrowful Mystery to contain those emotions and to honor key black people who died at the hands of police that were the cause of these protests. Our country's racism was showing and it enraged me to think that we had regressed into such craven, violent, racist behavior on my generation's watch. This sculpture is my act of atonement. Making it almost broke me spiritually, emotionally and physically. It gave me nightmares and tendonitis. I looked at images of the people listed on the top of the sculpture and read their biographies as I made it. It was an act of atonement and a quest for enlightenment. I wish I can tell you it made me a better person, but it only brought humiliation for my white privilege. Finishing it and putting that heavy lid on it did contain my rage though. I finished it on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent at which point I could spend time focusing on this issue to grow, heal, change, atone.
Inside the sculpture is I suppose a manifesto of sorts:
All of these events happened on my generation’s watch through our actions and inactions, our elitist and ignorant intolerances, our refusal to listen, share, or compromise has given rise to racism, hatred, greed, and craven disregard for truth, decency, justice and peace. We are all culpable. This is my atonement. We broke it we fix it.