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  • Kara Mshinda

Looking Back at the New Year Series of 2017


The passing of a year has given me some distance to think and reflect on the creation of my New Year Series. At the start of 2017, I was still grappling with the reality that both of my parents were diagnosed with cancer. My father was the first to learn of his diagnosis: lung cancer. My mother: breast cancer. I was faced with the possibility of living without them. I was also faced with a new reality of living in a populist, myopic, politically violent landscape rendered by the 2016 presidential election. The mass shootings, the brutality of policing in black and brown communities, the narcotics epidemic, all of it a swirling hurricane of gruesome largesse. I was sickened with the pace of events in my life.

I turned to my art to make sense of my thoughts and looming unsteadiness about the future. I began collecting local newspapers, circulars, flyers, and magazines. I was intrigued mostly by news headlines and images in newspapers. On one page there is a headline that reads SLAVERY EXISTS IN 2017 while the opposite page has a large advertisement for a Macy's sale. I began to question:

"How might a reader reconcile reading about contemporary human trafficking and a grand sale at a popular department store?"

"Is that what we do as consumers of media? Do we reconcile the macabre along with our materialism? Or are they mutually inclusive?"

I still have no definitive answers. However, questions often times lead to revelation. That was my task and axe in creating the paintings of New Year.

New Year is a collection of artwork that questions the juxtaposition of form and color while exploring the dialectic between images and words in news media. I punctuated newspaper clippings with images taken from fashion magazines to further illustrate the distinctions between beauty images and words about violence or protest.


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