Lost in America

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Lost in AmericaI began this piece in response to the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI. Aerial images of the scarred battlefields stayed in my mind, and I wanted to make a commemorative piece as a reminder of the horror and devastation of that war.

After preparing the paper, I began to build a charred landscape with burnt paper. I thought about it as my scorched earth piece. Then it stopped being a battlefield. The earth was scorched, but I didn’t know from what. I felt lost in it, which led to my realizing that I felt lost, too, in my country, in this time, in my beloved America.

I thought we in America were going to get away with democracy.

I laid down layers of white pencil and acrylic over the burnt paper. I wanted the ground to look ashen but silvery, depleted, yet with its own beauty.

Layers of different yellows followed the whites, making a gaseous and toxic sky, a cloud of pollution, greed, and hate. The paths or rivers or veins are red because red is blood, life, and death. They lead nowhere, all dead ends.

Now we don’t recognize our country. “This is not who we are,” people say about whatever new horror of words or deeds, new manifestation of hate, lust, or greed. But it is who we are. We Americans. We Jews. Every flavor of “We.”

The Rabbi in Gloucester says about Adam and Eve eating the apple that they had one rule, only one, to keep in order to live forever in Paradise. They couldn’t do it. They may have looked like God, but they did not have humility.

Susan Erony