"Obamaland #1: The Inauguration." detail view
by Susan Shie Contact me
back to 2009 Gallery page ////// Full view
"Obamaland #1: The Inauguration.” 2009 48.5"h x 32.5 "w #368 Peace Cozy #27
Begun 1-29-09, fiinished 2-9-09. Full view
Materials: Whole cloth painting on white Kona cotton, fabric paint. Cotton machine thread, Nature-fil bamboo and organic cotton batting. Perle cotton embroidery thread. One green temple Buddha Boy bead.
Techniques: Freehand drawing and painting made with airbrush and fabric paint. Small journal writing made with airpen and fabric paint. Roses painted with hand brush and fabric paint. Machine quilting with Mettler cotton thread. Hand stitching (just on the border) with DMC perle cotton.
I've been making pieces about the Obama inauguration since it happened, but the others were all very small. This one is the size of a bath towel, so it's still fairly little, but since I made the figures very large, I still think it works as a significant piece in my body of work. It will be part of a three piece set, with #s 2 and 3 also being Obamaland pieces, same size, same use of large figures. The size, idea of landscape, and making a series of these were parameters for an invitational show I'll be putting them all in, starting in Sept, 2010, called "A Sense of Place," curated by Peg Keeney. The three pieces need to be done by Sept of this year, for publicity reasons. So they'll all be about early important events in the Obama presidency.
I chose to make my landscape long, simply because only the vertical measurement for the pieces in Keeney's show plan could go this large, due to gallery size issues. My first thought about a long landscape of Obama was the view from the Capitol, where the swearing-in happened, to the Washington Monument, on the other end of the Washington Mall, with the crowd of nearly three million witnesses in between. It was a record-breaking crowd that watched Obama being sworn in and then listened, in silence and with many tears of joy, while he gave his inaugural speech.
We at home watched from millions and millions of televisions around the world, and we cried, too. Many watched in the streets on big TV screens, many huddled around little TVs in gathering places in small towns and villages around the world. Never before have so many people hung on every word being spoken by a new world leader. Never before has so much hope and good will been a uniting force around the world at one time. This was real history in the making.
Our first black president. But also our first president who goes well beyond race, to really being the hope of bringing people of all polarized combinations of descriptions together. Black and white, Democrat and Republican, rich and poor, professional and laborer, religious and not religious, American and people of all nations.
I wrote the whole inaugural address on Obama's suit coat, and when I ran out of space there, it went onto his left hand and over the Lincoln bible, and down into Michelle Obama's hand, and further, down into the bottom of the painting. I had written parts of this speech on the little inauguration pieces, but now it was all there, and I still cried as I copied it. We now have a statesman as a President again! And we have a national hero, worthy of our children's adulation and our own.
I wrote to my Facebook friends and asked them for a few words to describe Obama's strengths. When the first replies came in, they were a few words, nouns and adjectives. But soon the brief comments gave way to longer and longer essays, and I was worried that I couldn't get them all into my piece. I did, in Obama's face and hair, then in his right hand, and finally a couple of late arrivals of the comments went into the border. I wrote my own diary writings and my own feelings into the piece, here and there, but much of this piece is others' writing, more than my own.
For Michelle's story, I went to Wikipedia and read her life story, taking tons of notes. Well, I didn't have much room to talk about her on this piece, so maybe she'll be more than a little slice of a figure on one of the other two Obamaland pieces. But I am as excited about her as i am about President Obama. I believe they are equals in many ways, and as my dad used to say, they're both good pickers! Can't imagine either one of them with a lesser partner. They just fit together extremely well. Will she be President in 2016?????
I put my Peace Cozy (the light yellow peace symbol patch) on the Washington Monument, where it reminds me of a beacon on a lighthouse. It's sending out Peace Energy to all of us and to the world. I had all my writing done, but I still felt the piece needed something more. That's when I added the three red roses, using a regular paint brush, rather than my airbrush. I wanted to express the beauty and love that was in the air that day, so I put the giant roses over the space where the crowd would be, where until then, I only had oceans of words in a blue background color, to signifiy We, the People. I think making this particular piece moved me more than anything I've ever made before. I can't tell yet if it's a "great" piece, but it moved me greatly, while making it, and it still stirs me up in that same way, looking at it, editing my photos of it, etc.
I hope you like it, too.
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