Making Lemonade Series
Making Lemonade is a mixed media series of images based on appropriated political posters, stickers, and clothing items that were collected during the 2012 United States Presidential election campaign season. The appropriated items in this series portray both presidential candidates, and some of the primary candidates, in disrespectful manners; and especially with one of the candidates, promote negative stereotypes and xenophobic attitudes towards a variety of cultures. The items have been photographed and then altered with the goal of replacing the hate-filled propaganda with passive imagery or messages just as absurd as the appropriated object. On this website, the appropriated images are on the right while the altered images are on the left.
The use of mixed media on top of the gelatin silver prints was a deliberate decision to reject the ease of digital manipulation, which is the dominant media choice with the appropriated images. The intent is to not only remove the mass-produced character of the digitally manipulated imagery but also to make light of the anonymous, highly accessible nature of the Internet and the ease in which it allows for the spread of hate speech.
The Making Lemonade series began after a friend of mine provided me with a pro-life protest piece that she found in 2009 outside abortion provider Dr. George Tiller’s clinic, the day after his murder, and asked if I would make a work of art out of it. It was simultaneously an honor and tremendous fear to change a piece of hatred into something else. The work sat in my studio for over six months before I began to work on it. I thought about the words and the passionate opinions about abortions in America; although I did not want to match hatred with hatred, I wanted to transform the work in a positive manner.
I began by turning the piece upside down; covering the text with oil bar and then scratching the medium back off. I turned the work upside down because the taking of Dr. Tiller’s life made no sense to me. His death saddened me because of the self-righteous who carry out hate crimes for their own selfish egos and misguided principles. Although I am right-handed I used both hands to manipulate the materials because it feels like with extremists there is no control, thought or basic common sense when it comes to their beliefs. I scratched the surface and re-painted over areas, mixing the colors together to symbolize that every choice is not always black and white. As the piece progressed I began to play with the idea of the words since the original marker of the text kept seeping through the paint. I wanted to alter the image to still represent language, like something you were supposed to read but not be able make out; a kind of gibberish, which to me is representative of the inconceivable murder of a doctor who only wanted to help women. The last piece in the Making Lemonade series is the final work, with the copy of the appropriated image on the left. The title of the work is Transformation (I’ll Be Seeing You).