Friday, July 30, 2010

Arty Farty Friday ~ Truth in Art: Verdadism, Soraida Martinez, Robert Shetterly.

Verdadism: a combination of the Spanish word for truth (Verdad) and the English suffix for theory (ism). The contemporary art style, created in 1992 by Puerto Rican artist Soraida Martinez is defined by the juxtaposition of figurative abstract paintings with written social commentaries. Verdadism could be described as a 21st century socially conscious art.

Soraida’s thought-provoking and visually stimulating art style addresses sexism, racism, and stereotyping, aiming to promote tolerance and social change. It has influenced the work of many contemporary artists and writers and is being used by educators nationwide to teach diversity and tolerance.

Born in New York City on 30 July 1956, Soraida studied art and psychology at Rowan University, with a specialization in design. In 1996, she was appointed by the governor to a seat on the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

Socially conscious, social commentary...which astrological factors are likely to show up?

I thought first of Aquarius, then its ruler, Uranus. Nothing in the chart is emphasising Aquarius (apart from Chiron), unless Aquarius was rising, which we cannot know without a time of birth. But look at rebel planet Uranus sitting just 5 degrees from natal Leo Sun! Venus (art) in Gemini is in close harmonious trine to Neptune (imagination, creativity), and in helpful sextile to powerhouse Pluto in Leo - all at 27 degrees of their signs. It's Sun conjunct Uranus that defines this artist though.

Here are just a few examples of Soraida's work, more can be seen in the Gallery section of her website

The Terror Of Demasking Oneself

"In this society, we have been conditioned to be what people want us to be. We - as individuals - are afraid to be individuals. That's because American society, which is based on democracy, is actually not so open-minded when it comes to new ideas or different races. And, as human beings, we all know that; therefore, many of us have the terror of demasking ourselves. Most of us would rather die than let someone really know us...perhaps, because of the fear of rejection or a lack of awareness. So we live a 'so-so' life: never being ourselves; sleeping and wearing our daily masks; always afraid of being awaken."

Rage: It's My Body

"At a point in my life, I kept hearing politicians making decisions about abortion, sexual harassment and other issues about women. Most of them were men. Men telling women what to do with their bodies and men making decisions for women. What I felt was anger. How dare they not even include women in these choices. The tear in the female mask of Rage shows the pain and anger of living in a male dominated society that keeps women from making their own choices. The band across the neck is a man's red necktie which holds the woman in place and stifles her being. The red color represents a woman's blood as it is sucked out of her soul. The blocked hands depict the obstacles that are put before women. Rage: It's My Body is a painting about the violation of the female human spirit."

Guitar Player: A Symbol Of Hope

"When I was nine years old, I visited family who lived along the Puerto Rican Mountainside where I remember seeing the "cuatro" being played by many Puerto Ricans and I thought to myself that music was played everywhere to symbolize hope. Guitar Player: A Symbol Of Hope depicts the hope that we are all born with. Even though by the age of forty most of us have already lost that hope, Guitar Player is the embodiment of that desire to regain lost hope. The whites of the eyes of Guitar Player are able to penetrate deep into your soul to make a connection with your lost hope. The guitar itself is reminiscent of the everlasting, ringing sound that soothes us when there is hope and haunts us when there's no hope."

I'd already started preparing a post about Soraida when synchronicity struck. Last week at Common Dreams, where art isn't a regular feature, I read the piece Portraits of Courage by Robert Shetterly. The article provides background to Robert Shetterly's book and travelling exhibit "Americans Who Tell the Truth". He doesn't categorise this work as Verdadism, yet it seems to be exactly that. He has painted portraits of some of his fellow-countrymen, people who he considers to be "great Americans who spoke the truth", juxtaposing or including within the portrait, some of their words.

I can find no birth data for Mr. Shetterly except that he was born in 1946 in Cincinnati, Ohio. At his website,(linked below) in the Bio section he wrote:

The second strong feeling - the first being horror - I had on September 11 was hope, hope that the United States would use the shock of this tragedy to reassess our economic, environmental, and military strategies in relation to the other countries and peoples of the world. Many people hoped for the same thing - not to validate terrorism, but to admit that the arrogance and appetite of the U.S., all of us, have created so much bad feeling in many parts of the world that terrorism is inevitable. I no longer feel hopeful. If one looks closely at U.S. foreign policy, the common denominator is energy, oil in particular. The world is running out of oil. Political leadership that had respect for the future of the Earth and a decent concern for the lives of American and non-American people would be leading us away from conflict toward conservation and economic justice, toward alternative energy, toward a plan for the survival of the world that benefits everyone. We see hegemony and greed thinly veiled behind patriotism and security. We get pre-emptive war instead of pre-emptive planning for a sustainable future. The greatness of our country is being tested and will be measured not by its military might but by its restraint, compassion, and wisdom.......

I began painting this series of portraits - finding great Americans who spoke the truth and combining their images with their words - nearly three years ago as a way of to channel my anger and grief. In the process my respect and love for these people and their courage helped to transform that anger into hope and pride and allowed me to draw strength from this community of truth tellers, finding in them the courage, honesty, tolerance, generosity, wisdom and compassion that have made our country strong. One lesson that can be learned from all of these Americans is that the greatness of our country frequently depends not on the letter of the law, but the insistence of a single person that we adhere to the spirit of the law.

My original goal was to paint fifty portraits. I've now gone beyond that and have decided to paint several more

Just 4 portraits taken from his book, all can be seen at the artist's own website.

Howard Zinn

“The rule of law does not do away with the unequal distribution of wealth and power, but reinforces that inequality with the authority of law. It allocates wealth and poverty in such calculated and indirect ways as to leave the victim bewildered.”

Pete Seeger

"Song, songs kept them going and going; They didn't realize the millions of seeds they were sowing. They were singing in marches, even singing in jail. Songs gave them the courage to believe they would not fail."

Mary Harris - Mother Jones

“Goodbye, boys; I’m under arrest. I may have to go to jail. I may not see you for a long time. Keep up the fight! Don’t surrender! Pay no attention to the injunction machine at Parkersburg. The Federal judge is a scab anyhow. While you starve he plays golf. While you serve humanity, he serves injunctions for the money powers.”

Langston Hughes

“Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, the stealth, the lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers,
The mountains and the endless plain —
All, all the stretch of these great green states —
And make America again.”


anyjazz said...

As usual: Very nice! You dealt with two artists that I needed to learn about.

Twilight said...

anyjazz ~~~ Ta! These are two who really deserve a bit of a fanfare - a lot more than this, in fact.