Deborah Stern and Marie Roberts: Occupied and Unwelcome

Deborah Stern and Marie Roberts

Occupied and Unwelcome 

October 2- 27, 2012

Artists’ Reception: Thursday, October 4th 5-8-pm

Marie Roberts (Brooklyn) and Deborah Stern (Tucson, Arizona) are artists who have known each other for many years, yet live in almost parallel universes. While distance separates them physically, they are in virtually constant daily contact and share many artistic and social views. This artistic collaboration is an outgrowth of their often similar worldview, each one emphasizing the stark nature of injustice and inequality that pervades their immediate environment.

The physical presence of things naturally has the most power in driving the emotional forces that motivate an artist. In the case of Roberts, she has been a close witness and observer of the Occupy movement, a vaguely defined international protest movement against social inequality and the pervasive greed, power, and corruption of global financial and political entities: the international forces that dramatically lessen the quality of life for virtually all the people on earth, save those few who hold unmitigated power. Through daily observations and drawings of Occupy Wall Street, Roberts has captured the very simplest and purest essence of protest itself, as depicted in these elegant, elemental drawings. Stern, on the other hand, is far removed (physically) from centers of financial and political power, yet is a daily witness to the gross inequalities emanating from the American immigration system. She is surrounded by the remote harsh desert that continues to claim the lives of men, women, and children seeking only meager improvements of their desperate lives. While illegal immigration levels plummet due to the economic failures of the US economy (see Occupy), fatalities of illegal immigrants have not, due to US policies that funnel immigrants into increasingly remote, waterless, and burning desert corridors of death. Her stark black and white desert paintings intend to remove all but the most critical elements inherent to depicting this tragic reality.

This exhibition is a collaboration that merges the landscapes of Zuccotti Park with the Sonoran Desert, two locales with seemingly nothing in common. Yet they represent a very singular and distinct reality of American life: the faceless and nameless people who live in a bleak land of supposedly boundless opportunities, who, in reality, are powerless before the forces of globalization, economic hegemony, and political corruption/dysfunction, whose sole purpose is to maintain an unstable world equilibrium that favors only the select few.