Awhile ago I started paintings of “Patchwork Girls.” I didn’t know why. I just let them develop. The girls were mostly young, pretty, but with clothing that was patched up, stitched up with colorful patterns like you’d see on a quilt. Still didn’t know what the deal was and why I was enjoying painting them so much. I started looking at the common denominators.
I’d placed a heart on their chests. Not a valentine, but a heart that usually had a slash through it or had been ripped in some way. It was sewn back together, then sewn onto the dress they were wearing. Hmmm…..what up with that, Darlene?
Then the other day I watched an HBO Documentary called “Saving Face,” about a doctor born in Pakistan who went back to give his time and skills to saving women’s faces. They had been scarred by acid thrown onto them usually by their husbands, or their husband’s family. No real explanation was given as to why they had been purposefully disfigured. The doctor didn’t really care. He just wanted them to have a life without a Berka or veil, a life restored.
It really got to me that there are so many women and girls living in third world countries who are subject to barbaric cultural values in which they can easily become the victim, simply because they were born female. Maybe they wanted to get an education. Or a job outside the home that would fulfill them and add income to the family so they could buy the necessities their children needed. Or maybe they just grew tired of being a sex slave to their husband or a virtual slave to his family. Maybe they wanted to wear something different, or go to a movie, or chat with their girlfriends – who knows? We take so much for granted here in the west. Watching the documentary broke my heart.
Then it all made sense. I seem to have developed a huge passion for women and girls enslaved by their culture. They just want freedom to be who they are, not who someone else thinks they should be. Why should they receive acid in the face or be burned alive, raped, or beaten, or mutilated, or even stoned to death simply because they have a mind – a female mind – they want to use? I’m outraged. Sad. Helpless.
And so I paint. That’s all I can do right now. Just paint those faces whose hearts are broken, whose dresses are patched, who wish for a different sort of life.
So now it makes sense. Hope you enjoy the next one in this series.