On Fire

In 2020, this was my world: A global pandemic entered my home via the bodies of my house mates (recently returned from Japan) infecting me with a disease that still glitches my nervous system and inspired me to shed 80% of my belongings and move into my very first, (at 60yrs old), tiny, solo (and Covid-safe) apartment. My solo life lasted 2 weeks when my daughter was diagnosed with cervical cancer and moved in so I could be her caretaker through treatment and take her to her radiation and chemo 5 days a week.

 

Then  the black lives matter movement gained ground, and protests broke out, turning into riots with helicopters circling nightly, (I live in downtown Portland) and flashbangs, and gun fire, and broken windows, and broken arms, jailed protestors and bystanders and counter protests and Proud Boys, and so much more. As if nature was responding, the fires of the Pacific Northwest began and we sealed up the apartment to keep out the smoke. Despite the filtration and mitigation of our little microclimate, I felt like I could not breathe. Yes, our air was stagnant, but what was choking me was my anger; anger at the spread of Covid, anger at the divide in our country and rampant disregard and disrespect for this planet and for the lives of others, anger at complacency of our president, anger at the greedy somnambulance of resource gobbling corporations and the general western world that chose to turn a blind eye to climate change, angry at a disease that might take my daughter's life, but most of all, anger at my own ineffectualness at creating any significant change myself.

 

We know it is all connected: climate change, racism, greed, toxicity, disrespect and usery of lives and nature, lack of connection, inequity, depletion of resources, fires, pandemics, and cancer. I was enraged and frightened and sharing a tiny 560 sq ft apartment with a person I could not /would not infect with the wild fire of my emotions. So I painted. I painted the wild fires raging in Oregon. Each painting inspired by imagery of actual fires burning at the time. I painted my rage 12 feet away from my beautiful, struggling daughter. I burned and painted. My anger at this craziness; this blindness, that has been killing our planet, and this disease I feared was killing my daughter. There was no where to go, nothing else I had the ability to do. So I painted.