My painting references a photo of myself (left) and one I took of a little girl I know (right), who was separated from her parents and has had little say in her situation. She was a partial inspiration for my “Rights of the Child’’ series of paintings, reflecting on how different societies exercise mixed messages around the value of life and youth.
This piece emerged from an argument I had with someone who felt that unborn children deserve rights but the children detained at the U.S.-Mexico border did not. I wondered about the cognitive dissonance we all exercise in making decisions on behalf of children.
I wanted to depict images of two little girls from two different times and encapsulate a sense of the enormity of the worlds we emerged into. At the right, viewers might see either a cage or a common playground feature; I wanted everything in the image to be construed as both playful and foreboding, because that is the essence of childhood. Children’s rights are not one-size-fits-all in a world where so much trauma and separation, and also healing and cycle-breaking, take place.