No One Can Take An Education Away From You
As I was creating this work, I found my feelings and thoughts (well, okay . . . prayers) focused on the idea that girls are entitled to an education, and that to stay in school and achieve at least a basic education makes the girl’s life better. And to those who think that it doesn’t matter if a girl “only” grows up to be a wife and mother, I would say that if the girl is educated, her whole family benefits, including especially her eventual husband and children. So the work is really a prayer that the Ethiopian girls (and girls anywhere) stay in school. I intended the painting to have a spiritual appearance, with rays from a light-saturated portal on a distant horizon touching a cluster of translucent female figures reading in the foreground. Light seemingly shimmers through and refracts from them, as does education and enlightenment in a person’s life. Are they reading, or praying? Or, is the act of reading a form of praying for a better life for oneself and others near you?
The painting is in honor of Fannie Mae Caldwell, a Texan who was born in 1900 to a former slave with no formal education. Her father taught his children, “No one can take away from you what you know,” and Fannie Mae completed her education to become a school teacher and worked to keep a school open in her Texas hometown during the era of segregation. She passed her value of education on to her pupils. I found this courageous civil rights activist/feminist when I tried to search for the source of the title words for this work, which are collaged into the painting. Also collaged into the work are the words, “Fannie Mae said it differently, but we agree.”
This painting is unique because I decided to
keep painting and collaging all the way around the canvas. As such, it became a three-dimensional work. The stand is an integral part of the work with implements of education (pencils and a shoe-shaped eraser [a nod to the work of the Girls Gotta Run Foundation]) continuing the collage/mixed media. I have painted around the edge of my canvases for a long time and this time
decided to make the back of the painting as interesting as the front.
“No One Can Take An Education Away From You” is one of a few works also of the same size which address issues important to girls and women. The first three were created for a show pegged to International Women’s Day 2008 and inspired by the U.N. Commission on Women’s millennium goal to empower women. Those titles were, “Women Carry the Future Forward,” “What I Dreamed Wearing These High-Heeled Shoes,” and “What the Matrioshka Doll Knows.” Another work, “Dreaming I Was There,” expressed the idea of hope through a feminine image of genesis. The first four are in private collections.
So, another tiny painting that says a lot!