The aim of my artwork is to communicate the idea that through isolation, we learn more of our community and begin to appreciate it more. The colours I use in paintings are often chosen to represent solidarity. For example, isolation is usually depicted as blue and dark, but I choose to use hot colours: isolation has a passionate longing to it, and it is only once we are isolated that we realise what community is and the importance of it. The sun in my painting symbolizes unity in our citizenship on this planet. We all belong here and we all need to know that we’re not alone. We are part of something much bigger.
Something which has had a profound impact on my painting is the passion for art and solidarity that has become evident throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
At the beginning of the pandemic, I saw people in Italy singing, painting and communicating on their balconies, despite the restrictions of quarantine.
I believe we have gained more than we have lost through this pandemic. I live in Illinois – our community is culturally rich and diversified, with a growing art community. When we went into a forced ‘sleep’ in March 2020, it was like being in a bad science fiction movie: performing arts centres, galleries and art classes were closed. But then, much like in many other places in the world, people began develop alternative ways to be together, whether that was through zoom meetings, daily walks or meeting with neighbours from a distance and wearing masks. We had one another in a way that was isolated, and yet still very nurturing and personal.
I think we all learned to appreciate life just a little bit more.
I emigrated to the USA in 1958 at the age of 5. I assimilated into American culture, and yet my connections with Sweden remained as much of our family stayed there. I truly walked two worlds throughout my childhood; I believe this double vision has had a major influence on my life. Sweden is known to be a progressive and modern country, and I think I’ve held onto these Swedish qualities and beliefs. I was raised to stay quiet and only comment when asked. I’ve always been reflective, a deep thinker, the thoughts had to be expressed somehow. Art became my release.
Solidarity initiatives has certainly influenced my own life. As a teacher in the American public school system, I have benefited from solidarity to improve education systems and our standard of living. Solidarity is union, and as a political philosophy, it can change the path of a nation. The metaphorical locking of arms has transformed social, political and cultural issues. I am able to do and endure much as an individual, but when I am part of a community with a shared goal, my strength is magnified. I hope my work will have some social impact.
I want it to inspire people to think. So many of us are just mechanically moving through time. We must eventually grow to consider wider issues. If I can stimulate thought, I will be satisfied.
I have supported and continue to support local and global social initiatives, including: Aurora Art League, an organisation based in Aurora, Illinois, which aims to provide opportunities for all those interested in creative visual art; PAWS, the Progressive Animal Welfare Society; the Swedish-American Museum of Chicago and Save the Children.
The new generation is progressive. I truly believe they will continue to use art to fight social issues. They’re capable of communication through so many different mediums. So many actors, song writers and visual artists are already creating artistic pieces about social and environmental issues. Their work, both individually and collaboratively, goes far beyond self-interest. Education in the arts has allowed the new generation to value creativity, benefit from it and come together to shape a fairer society.