Cost of War/ Price of Freedom
In this exhibition I focus on the intersection of freedom and war. Is the cost of war another way of looking at the price of freedom? John F. Kennedy said, “It is an unfortunate fact that we can secure peace only by preparing for war.” Or are these ideas at odds with one another? Benjamin Franklin offered, “There never was a good war or a bad peace.” Perhaps you need war to have the peace that accompanies freedom. “I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.” (John Adams)
The more involved I became in the studio, the more I contemplated these ideas. So I began working on two related bodies of work. One I named The Price of Freedom where I created messages of empowerment from folded bills. Proclamations like United We Stand and I Am Free I embrace the freedoms we enjoy daily. The other simultaneous series is The Cost Of War where I probed the means by which this freedom is achieved or supposedly protected. When threats arise that jeopardize our way of life, we often respond with force.
Military aggression costs billions of dollars and often leads to economic stain resulting in job loss, decline in education, and further restrictions in medical resources for citizens. In this light some of our basic freedoms are compromised to protect our more capitalist interests. Charles Sumner adds, “Give me the money that has been spent in war and I will clothe every man, woman, and child in an attire of which kings and queens will be proud. I will build a schoolhouse in every valley over the whole earth. I will crown every hillside with a place of worship consecrated to peace.” The cost of war has created an internal war on our economy, where the generals are CEOs and the tanks are toxic assets. This is a costly war under the camouflage of billion dollar bailouts. It is not coincidence that our money mimics military camouflage as illustrated in this new body of work. The only question now is where do we go from here.
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron. ~Dwight Eisenhower