International artist Teresa Margolles commissioned myself, Michelle Bishop, Laura Gadson, Jerry Gant to produce a work for her upcoming show at the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, N.Y. The focus of Teresa's work deals with the impact of violence on communities, and we were invited to express our response to the death of Eric Garner by the police. A cloth containing fragments and energies taken from the ground where he lay through a process developed by Ms. Margolles, was presented to us to work with. Under Michelle's direction, we responded with the (de)construction of the U.S. flag, a symbol of freedom that is deteriorating for many of us. We each concentrated on a particular aspect of this.
My focus was on female victims of police violence. Although black males are the majority of those beaten and killed by police, the media, through a process of selective attention, creates a unnecessary gender-bias renderig black and Latina women invisible (but inures the perp's immunity). All of these victims were given some press at the time, but I now had to search to even find a mention. How do their families heal? Get justice?
Conni Maculata is the patron saint I created for the victims, her name a play on conium maculatum, the Latin name for the hemlock plant. Hemlock has been the instrument for women's justice for centuries. Ironically, in very small doses, it is used for the rapid healing of serious wounds.
Embroidery, applique, stamping, hand spinning, dyeing and garment construction was used to memorialize the unarmed women and girls killed by police. I gave them the "Hollywood Star" treatment stitching, because in our entertainment society, celebrity is how people remain in our minds.