Confession: I am trained to participate in oppression, yours and mine
Jessica Ann Willis (2020)
Acrylic on OSB
96″ x 48″
Greater Hudson Promise Neighborhood, 30%
I am a multidisciplinary artist. I will make art with anything I can get my hands on because I feel strongly that making art is only possible as part of my dialog with the world around me. Part of that dialog is the materials I work with. When I limit myself to one method, one medium, one way of expressing myself, I cling to what is familiar and I sit securely in doing what I know I do well and limit my voice and expression to neat packages. Even though I have often been told, that’s what I’m supposed to do, it doesn’t work for me. It’s like hiding in the familiar part of the world I live in, not open to understanding that the truth I see, live and know is dictated by my experience, my education, language, race, gender, socio-economic background, country of origin… and that it is miniscule. Most of what I (indeed, many of us) have been taught, is to fear stepping outside of that tiny safe and familiar sliver of truth. I can only make art when I make room for that experience of the messy truth in the world I am in, to seep out in my work. The only way I can do that is to see, acknowledge, confess and push beyond the thinking and the practices that neatly frame the comfortable illusion that there is one highest truth and that it belongs to anyone.
If I seek my power by following others, I participate in my own oppression
If I believe myself to be the architect of your liberation I claim my privilege and participate in your oppression
I am trained to believe that valuing myself doesn't leave room for you to have value too
I am trained to believe that standing up for myself requires pushing you down
I am trained to believe that for me to have power, you can not
I am trained to believe that my
desires way of living and doing,
if not the same as yours are better than yours
This is what allows me to feel justified in my oppression of you.