Change is messy.

My usual artist ‘brand’ is brightly colored pet themed art, and I will continue to remain true to that brand. My art cannot ignore recent events that have turned my world upside down, however. The 2016 presidential election changed everything for me, and I cannot sit back and be quiet about it.

I developed this site as a place to explore and experiment with my artistic response to the new realities in my my world. I appreciate your support of my art as I endeavor through this new cultural landscape that has been thrust upon me.

Change is messy. It doesn’t occur without conflict, and it isn’t tidy. As an artist, I seek to articulate my own messy struggle with the new realities of my world, and I also seek to articulate the cultural upheaval around me. I don’t know where this will go. Does anyone?

Life is an Adventure!

BZTAT

“Get used to it. If you didn’t want my protest, you should have voted for a less controversial candidate.”

This post was originally published on Medium on December 15, 2016.

under new management

At this writing, it is just over a month since the 2016 election. Since November 8, I have come to terms with the reality that my candidate, Hillary Clinton, will not be president. I have not, and will not, however, come to terms with the idea that Donald Trump will soon become president.

Americans across the country are rejecting the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, and they are pushing back in unprecedented ways. I am among those pushing back. We won’t change the outcome of the election, but we do hope to mitigate the consequences that may result from it.

Many of us have taken to the streets to protest in various cities across the land. Record numbers of people have called their elected officials to voice their concerns, and newly inspired activists have signed on with causes opposed to Trump. Others have taken to social media to voice their discontent. These protests promise to be sustained and unrelenting. In response, many Trump supporters have attempted to shut us down with words designed to bully us into silence.

It is not working.

“Get over it,” Trump supporters say. “Don’t be a sore loser. We didn’t protest when Barack Obama was elected.”

There is a sneering attitude of superiority attached to these sorts of comments. I am undaunted. To them I say, “Get used to it. If you didn’t want my protest, you should have voted for a less controversial candidate.”

No matter who you voted for, you have to recognize that Donald Trump was not a normal candidate. His difference from past candidates likely motivated your vote either for or against him. When you elect someone so different than the norm, you simply cannot expect that everyone will just fall in line behind him. There is no legitimate comparison of Trump to other candidates, as he is too far outside of the mainstream.You cannot expect everyone to accept the radical ways that he intends to change our government without complaint. Our protest is to ensure that his march through history is met with intense scrutiny and challenge. We are not lamenting our candidate’s loss, rather, we are exercising our right to protest the victor running roughshod over our country.

In case you truly do not comprehend why people are protesting this election so fervently, perhaps the following will help you understand:

1. It is the right of every citizen to vocalize his or her opinion about any election. Protest is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. The notion that previous elections were not protested has no bearing on the present situation. People who were opposed to Barack Obama had the right to protest, whether they used it or not. Their failure to exercise their rights to protest is their fault, not mine.

2. Donald Trump is the only person ever elected to the presidency without some experience in public governance. His lack of experience requires more scrutiny from the public than others who have demonstrated track records in public service.

3. Donald Trump has voiced considerable disdain for the free press, whose role it is to hold elected officials accountable to the public they serve. Although tensions exist between the press and most elected officials, few have attempted to circumvent the press to the extent that Donald Trump has done. Furthermore, Donald Trump has benefited from an unprecedented state sponsored misinformation campaign from Russia that has been deemed cyberterrorism by the national intelligence community. Donald Trump’s disregard for the role of the free press requires more scrutiny from the public than other officials who have demonstrated their respect for the First Amendment.

4. Donald Trump has made numerous remarks that were dismissive and insulting to numerous Americans, including: Muslims, African Americans, Hispanics, immigrants from various nations, women, persons with disabilities, etc. His remarks have strongly implied that he does not respect the rights of many Americans, and his words have emboldened white supremacists to perpetrate hate crimes against minorities. Trump’s disregard for the rights of numerous Americans requires more scrutiny from the public than other leaders who have chosen their words more carefully in regards to persons of color, women and other minorities.

5. Donald Trump has appointed individuals to cabinet positions who have either been openly hostile to the departments they are designated to lead or have no relevant experience for their appointed roles. His preferences for filling leadership positions require more scrutiny from the public than past presidents who have preferred more reasonable candidates for leadership positions.

6. Donald Trump has used his Twitter account in ways that are alarming to people around the world. Whether it is a 3 AM Tweetstorm designed to malign a former Miss America, or remarks designed to provoke world leaders, Trump’s provocativeness in social media requires more scrutiny from the public than other leaders who have chosen less incendiary words online.

7. Donald Trump has business interests around the world that pose significant conflicts of interest to his role as president. These conflicts have wide ranging national security implications. He has shown no inclination towards divesting himself from these interests, nor has he allowed any transparency into his business activities. His opaqueness about his potential conflicts of interest requires more scrutiny from the public than other leaders who have shared tax returns and have been willing to give up business interests that posed conflicts.

8. Donald Trump was elected as a “change” candidate by a minority of Americans. Although he won through the Electoral College, a majority of Americans voted in opposition to the changes that his campaign promoted. That opposition remains. His proposed changes are radical in many regards and should not be allowed to prevail without challenge. The fact that a majority of Americans are opposed to the radical changes he has proposed requires more scrutiny from the public than past presidents who have advanced less radical agendas.

You many have reconciled the various controversies and provocative qualities of Donald Trump with yourself, and you may have been able to overlook his boorish behavior. Good for you. Just because YOU have accepted these things, though, does not mean everyone will, nor should they. A majority of Americans did not feel that he was worthy of their vote, and many have chosen to be vocal about their disgust of him. If you don’t like our protest, too bad. You could have chosen a candidate who would have provoked less dissent.

Don’t tell me to sit down and stop rocking the boat when you created the waves.

I made a decision today. I am going to be that woman who won’t shut up.

This post was originally published on Medium on December 6, 2016.

self portrait collage - no apologies

I am no shrinking violet, and I am not afraid to voice my opinion when the situation calls for it. I am not, however, in the habit of making a scene in a meeting where I am unfamiliar with the leader and the rest of the people present.

I confess that I did do this last night.

I went to a writers group in Cleveland last night for the first time. Billed as a group to help writers learn about publishing and promoting their books, I thought the group might be helpful, as I am about to publish a children’s picture book. The topic of discussion was using social media to promote yourself as an author.

I was a bit taken aback when the male leader of the group began the discussion by using Donald Trump as a shining example of the use of social media. He spoke about how Donald Trump had won the presidential election on the merits of his social media prowess. He further claimed that “no one liked Hillary”, although he went on and on about how people did like her husband. He essentially heralded Trump’s use of social media and demeaned Hillary for her lack of stature in this area.

Were we in normal times, I may have spoken up and made a sarcastic remark, and then let it go. But we are not in normal times. I could not let it go.

There is ample documentation of how Donald Trump has used social media to promote racism, misogyny, and bigotry. He has promoted outright lies and fake news through social media. He has incited violence through social media. White supremacists and Russian hackers have used social media to elevate Donald Trump, and he has used his Twitter account to undermine decades of foreign diplomacy.

I found it highly offensive that a leader of a nonpolitical writer’s group would use Donald Trump as an example for how authors should use social media, and I told him so. When I spoke up to challenge the false narrative that “no one liked Hillary” (She did win millions more votes than Trump,) I was told “This is my meeting” and “just sit with being out of your comfort zone.”

Well here’s the thing. I have been “sitting with being out of my comfort zone” with misogynistic and bigoted men for too long in my life. I won’t do it for a silly writers group. So instead of sitting with it, I told him I would not, and I made a very abrupt scene of walking out of the meeting.

Were my actions unprofessional? Perhaps. Did I “embarrass myself” as the leader claimed in a tweet to me after the fact? Quite possibly. Was I rude and disrespectful as he claimed in another tweet (he has sent 15 as of this writing. I guess this “nasty woman” got under his skin.) I will cop to that.

Should I have just sat quietly while listening to him spin a chauvinistic and false narrative about the first woman presidential candidate for his example of social media promotion? Should I have let his use of Donald Trump as a positive example for social media authenticity go unchecked? Should I have conformed to polite conventions and just taken his provocation and subsequent silencing like a polite little lady? Sorry, I can’t do that.

We are not in normal times, and polite “professional” conventions may need to fall to the wayside in order for people to wake up to our new reality.

Our new reality is that the most repugnant, racist, and misogynistic demagogue has been elevated to the highest office in the world. He is radical and he has unleashed hatred and dangerous movements across our country. IT CANNOT GO UNCHECKED – even in the small space of a writer’s group where a little man thinks its OK to put women in their place and expect them to be silent.

I made a decision last night. I am going to be that woman who won’t shut up. Granted, I have already been that to some degree. But last night I made the decision that I will be relentless without regrets about speaking my mind when it needs to be spoken. I will face the critics and withstand their blather. I won’t succumb to the polite conventions that would be expected of me under normal conditions. We are not under normal conditions. Polite conventions seem unbearably quaint at this point in time.

This was not about a group leader using an example with which I simply disagreed. This was misogyny hitting me smack in the face. It needed to be called out. It won’t be the last time I do it.

This is not OK.

This post was originally published on Medium on November 11, 2016.

revolution

This is not OK.

I know you want it to be. I know you are hopeful that it will be. But it is not OK. It will not be OK. I can’t pretend that it will be.

You want me to move on. You want me to just accept it. I can’t.

I can’t utter that man’s name and follow it with the words “President Elect”. I can’t watch the effort to normalize this election and the transfer of powers on cable news. I can’t do it.

I know you need to move on, and that is OK. You need to have hope. You need to accept the way things are. You need to play the hand that you are dealt, accept defeat and try to make the best of it.

You need cute kitten videos on your Facebook, not my dour pessimism.

As far as I am concerned, though, there is no “best of it”. There is no way to make lemonade out of this poisonous lemon.

Everything about this election is wrong. As Harry Reid said, this does not feel like America.

“The election of Donald Trump has emboldened the forces of hate and bigotry in America. White nationalists, Vladimir Putin and ISIS are celebrating Donald Trump’s victory, while innocent, law-abiding Americans are wracked with fear — especially African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Muslim Americans, LGBT Americans and Asian Americans. Watching white nationalists celebrate while innocent Americans cry tears of fear does not feel like America.” ~ Harry Reid, US Senate minority leader

I presume that there is no remedy for this. Outside of the long shot effort to get Electoral College delegates to vote against the will of voters, we are stuck with this mess that we have created. Hopeful expectations that the man and his minions will change are naïve and they leave us vulnerable. No doubt he will resign or be impeached due to his sheer incompetence at some point, but how much damage will be done before that happens?

I won’t pretend. I am going to be that friend who resists every aspect of this, and I will probably annoy you. I am sorry. I just can’t deny reality.

I need to play the hand that I have been dealt, and this is my play.

I face a creative challenge at this point in my life. How do I resist the forces of hate that have been given credence in this election, yet still be an agent of forward change? How do I promote justice for all, when I disdain those who have put this man in office? How can I remain open to learning and creating when I feel the desire to build walls against this?

I don’t have these answers. It is now my mission to find them.

Because this is not OK. And I have to be a part of the movement to make things OK.