I came up with the political satire series, “American Portrait” as a reaction to my finding myself at the middle of the health care reform debate at the end of 2011, after an op-ed I wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “Obamcare to the Rescue” caused a national stir.
Being singled out by total strangers who hate you and wish you dead is a very bizarre thing to go through (especially when you are sick with cancer and in fear for your life). I became acutely aware of how paranoid and out of touch a significant portion of this country is, and how easy it is to get them riled up, if you scare them into thinking they are about to lose their ‘liberty’ or ‘freedom’. I was inspired to create a new series where I could combine my painting and cartooning to illustrate how I see America at this point in time. Where we’re at at this point in time is cartoonish. We look like a bunch of spoiled brats and fools to the rest of the world.
My story received international attention. I was interviewed by the BBC, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Swiss TV, and Dutch Public TV. They all hoped I could answer their questions about why Americans are so arrogant, uninformed, and cruel. I have my theory as to why Americans are so self righteous and under educated, but I’m still struggling to understand how we can be so mean to each other.
The series addresses immigration, the GOP, health insurance companies, sexism, racism, public education, gun control and religion – all hot topics that most people will try and stay away from, but not me. Not anymore. Ever since I got cancer and the recession knocked me on my butt, I feel like I have nothing to lose by putting it all out there. After being kicked when I was down, I have bounced back up and am stronger, more liberal and more outspoken than ever before. I posted some of the paintings and drawings from the American Portrait series on Facebook last year and got unfriended by some of my ‘friends’ from high school. The bully jocks from high school grew up to become bully Republicans. They don’t “like” me, and I don’t “like” them. Just “like” in high school!
Emerson UU is located at 7304 Jordan in Canoga Park. The show, “Justice For All” will be on May 16 from 6-10 p.m. For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org.