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  • Writer's pictureApril Gavin

Compliance: Stolen Children

Stolen Children is the second in a series regarding compliance and the things we as a society give our tacit, unspoken approval. For this piece, I address the unknown graves of indigenous children who were forcibly sent to boarding schools in an effort to "civilize" them. Many of the graves have some marker either a headstone that simply says "UNKNOWN" or a number. The dates on this piece reflect the years that the Carlisle Industrial Indian School operated in its mission "to kill the Indian and save the man." When I completed this piece 1,585 unknown graves had been found all over the United States and Canada. The number has gone up to over 2,000 in the month since I finished this piece.

The textile used here is a ladies handkerchief that was once owned by my paternal Grandmother. As I was estranged from my father's family, it felt poignant to use an object that this ancestor who I barely knew had used an touched. The textile itself is 9"x9" and is loosely woven. I studied this piece for a long time and am still not sure if I can call it done. What do you think? How do you know if a work is complete and ready to share?

I currently have work on display in two different exhibitions and soon to mail a third to San Antonio. The online version of the Small Wonders exhibition is here. There are some amazing artists in this show. I was also accepted to the Art 4 Animals exhibition in Red Bluff, CA. This is a really fun exhibition organized by animal. My piece Compliance: Lives that Matter was accepted as part of The Language of Textiles exhibition in San Antonio, TX. The show isn't up yet, but stay tuned. I will share links when they are available.

My goal this year was to be accepted into six exhibitions and I managed to be accepted into seven. I'm doing my best to manage the dopamine, but I am proud of myself. A stranger's opinion of my art sometimes means more than a friend's. Especially if that stranger is a juror viewing art for a potential exhibition and decides that my work can hang next to others. I'll take it as a complement every time.

Shout outs:

Annie Lopez is an artist that I recently learned of and she's captured my heart. She uses a cyanotype solution to print on tamale wrapper paper and then sews the pieces together to make dresses as 3D sculpture. I love the democracy of her tools and work. She has a new video on her website showing her process.

Kerry Vineberg is a writer and a friend. She took the initiative for herself and started writing and publishing for something she really loves - comics. My hope is that everyone can find that self-agency and do the thing they really want to do. Now, if we can only find a way to get her paid for this work. Hmmm....

Denise Kester is a an artist who uses the dream-scape as a basis for her art. When I feel depressed or dis-spirited, I read her book and look and try to draw something from my dreams. It really helps.

Work turned heavy suddenly due to a colleague's untimely death. I'm crunching more numbers than usual this time of year. But, I am around and making art. I hope to see all of you soon.


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