Saturday, February 25, 2017

My thoughts: Judy Coates Perez

This post was written by Judy Coates Perez. It is one in a series of posts by members of The Artist Circle, explaining why we organized the Threads of Resistance exhibition, and our feelings about the role of art and artists in our democracy. Opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. 

If you’re on Facebook you’ve probably already heard about a new exhibit opportunity called Threads of Resistance organized by a group I belong to called the Artists Circle. This is an opportunity to create textile art that will go on tour throughout the US over the next 2 years, with 12 venues already on the schedule, and opening at the New England Quilt Museum on July 15th. I encourage you to read our mission statement for the exhibit.
This all began a couple weeks ago, when several friends and I were discussing how stressed out we’ve felt since the inauguration in a private group on Facebook. Before long we began talking about making artwork to process our feelings, which then led to the idea for an exhibit.

I think many of us feel like we have no voice in a situation where policy is being put in place on a daily basis, that’s in direct opposition to America’s moral fiber. Sorry if you disagree with this belief, but my understanding is that America was founded on equality and justice for all, not just financially comfortable white people. And no matter how many red flags go up, and ‘REAL’ news stories are broadcast, (ones that would typically have taken down a democrat in power 10 times over for even the slightest of these infractions) NOTHING changes. The feeling of powerlessness to stop the wheels that have been set in motion is palpable.

For the most part, my work always has a story behind it and many of my art quilts have been cathartic in nature, especially over the last 8 years. I find making art incredibly healing, you can read an article I wrote about that process here and you may remember a couple months ago, after the election, when I was so filled with despair, I started making prayer flags to find some peace of mind.

“Being an artist means forever healing your own wounds and at the same time endlessly exposing them.”  ― Annette Messager
I get why so many Americans felt left out of the recovery from the recession, I’m one of them. My ex and I lost our home and life savings and will never fully recover from everything we lost, but I don’t blame the democrats. I blame the drastic economic shift in wealth that happened during the recession, aided by Wall street. I blame the CEO’s of banks that pocketed money the government gave them to help people like us with modifications on our loans, by giving themselves astronomical bonuses instead. The ultimate gall is to see 45 appoint someone who profited from the foreclosure on thousands to a position in charge of the economy.

Getting ahead is not about how hard you work, the hardest workers in this country are most often the poorest. The truth is money makes money, and when you don’t have it, it’s nearly impossible to climb back out of the hole of poverty. So why would I trust a “billionaire” who doesn’t pay his workers, (or taxes!) and instead files bankruptcy to avoid his debts? He is far from being a friend of the working class.

Never in my lifetime did I think we would have white supremacists in a place of power and influence in the United States. That is terrifying on so many levels!

In regards to that and the economy, we certainly don’t want to deport all our immigrants. Do you think Americans are going to do the back breaking labor of agricultural workers, especially at a pay scale that still makes food affordable for the rest of the country?

Our planet is in jeopardy. I don’t know about you, but I like clean air, safe drinking water, and want to protect the health and welfare of people. Our future should be working towards clean technologies, protecting national parks and environments, and not making nefarious oil barons wealthier. We have rules against profiting from policies while being in a government office, that are blatantly being ignored.

We have a president with the communication skills of a 3rd grader, and the inappropriate behavior of a lascivious adolescent. He’s a narcissist and a pathological liar.  He even boldly lies about things we can see with our own eyes aren’t there, and thinks we should believe something’s true because he says it is? I don’t think so! He has proved himself untrustworthy. Why else would there be national security leaks? They are going over his head to inform the American people of his dangerous behavior and policies.

In the mean time, he’s trying to reduce our trust in the judicial system, along with valid news sources like any authoritarian dictator. Thank god for our hard working news outlets, they are our daily check on reality in the dystopian twilight zone of present day America.

The hardest part of this, is watching the republicans not lift a finger to stop the injustices that are happening. They’re more concerned with getting their policies passed and saving their jobs, than our country. I realize by speaking out and making work that may be inflammatory, that I too am jeopardizing my ability to work in a job I love, but I think doing nothing and staying silent in the face of losing our democracy, is a far worse offense.

Obviously, I’m angry, and afraid, and so I’m going to make art about it. I’ll tell you now, it won’t be pretty, I’ve been haunted by an image that came to me the morning after the election, and this exhibit feels like the impetus I’ve needed to put it on fabric.
“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable” – Cesar Cruz
If you’d like to submit work to Threads of Resistance, the call for entries is here and there is also a Facebook page you can follow and submit inquiries, if you have them. We are determined to keep it a troll free zone.


  1. I agree with all of your thoughts. At Christmas our 27 year old daughter told us she probably wasn't going to have kids because of how bad it will get on our planet if coal and oil companies get their way. And it sure seems like they will. Nothing like releasing all the carbon we can into the environment or allowing coal companies to pollute streams. I am a meteorologist and I know how bad climate change is going to get and yet we still have a party and a president that denies it as a hoax. No wonder my daughter is concerned. I have made several environmental quilts already and am planning one for this venue. Thanks for speaking out!

  2. Judy, I couldn't agree with you more. Thank you for standing up. I started planning my entry and hopefully will get it done and submitted before the deadline. My problem is what topic I should take on when all are important. I keep hoping and praying that the Republicans will come to their senses and do what is right for our country. I also hope that Bannon and his minons (who are really running the show) will be expelled from the WH. I can dream, can't I?

  3. Artists one and all, thank you for standing up and being counted. What is happening in our country is frightening and demoralizing. Change happens only when people stand up for their beliefs. The planet earth is our village and we are all living in the same village. Art can make a difference to the good in ways that rhetoric and argument cannot. So I applaud you all and will watch eagerly to see how this progresses. With gratitude...Neame

  4. awesome statement Judy, glad to see your pick up and run with the family flag !


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