Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Artists respond to Trumpists' barbaric immigration policies

From the "13 Artists on: Immigration" article in today's New York Times Style Magazine: Art Spiegelman's "A Warm Welcome," 2015. CreditPortrait by Phil Penman. Artwork courtesy of the artist. 

Art Spiegelman ("Maus: A Survivor's Story") was one of the 13 artists asked by the NYT to respond to current U.S. immigration issues. An immigrant himself, he has a few things to say about his own experience, and the above illustration:

I first saw the Statue of Liberty in October 1950 while perched high on my father’s shoulders. My parents, survivors of Hitler’s death camps, had been granted immigration visas to the United States, and all the passengers were crowded on the foredeck of the Gripsholm as we approached the harbor. I was less than 3 years old when my father excitedly pointed at the giant lady standing in the water to welcome us to New York. I was suitably awed until we got closer and was disappointed to see that she was “just” a statue.
"Maus" was probably the first graphic novel I read, and it took me awhile to get to it. It was after I wandered into an exhibit of Spiegelman's work at the Rollins College Gallery in Winter Park, Fla. It was about a decade ago. I thought of graphic novels as bloated comic books. "Maus" taught me otherwise. Something about seeing the exhibition-size artwork arrayed around the gallery got to me. I know quite a bit about the Holocaust but something about Jews as mice -- and Nazis as cats -- got to me. I recommend it highly. The issues  echo down the years to 2018. It's tempting to equate any fascist behavior to the Nazis. But Trump's cruel, racist actions are happening right now in the U.S., not in 1943 Germany or Poland. 

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