Jul 30, 2012

Hebron, Palestine

I knew we were going to a divided land, but no news, pictures, videos, nor shared experiences could really convey the heaviness of the atmosphere in this "holy" place that has been horizontally, vertically, politically, spiritually, morally slashed.
Markets are non-secular meeting sites, the hart of a town; full of life, people, colors, noises, flavors, gossip. This heart of the city has been divided in H1 and H2. The place of worship at war between two gods.

We entered the souk (market) trough a revolving gate flanked by armed kids dressed as soldiers. Our guide warned us to look out for the violence coming from the settlement above us, and right below it, there was man whose daily struggle is to tame his rage while trying to make a living under the constant aggression coming from the windows above.
Dan, our guide through the souk, was a volunteer From CTP (Christian peacemaker teams) we walked through what is left of a once vibrant market, then along the main street; Dan telling us: "the military came and closed the street and any business on it" In my head; this capsules of time with goods turning into dust for 50 years.
At the end of the market there is a 10 ft high wall, then a barbed wire fence, right there is one last business; a kid with caged nervous birds.

A recorded interview of the shop owner:

A video of the market:

Jul 26, 2012

West and East Jerusalem

What is wrong with tourism? I had a little moral struggle in Jerusalem. Being blown away by the beauty of the ancient city that looks like it was carved right out of the mountain, the fortress wall, the history, the mystery, hey! even all the biblical references contributed to my state of awe, and then, the vendors, the food, the maze-like corridors... Next we got to the center of the city, and its holy sites. The temple, the wall, the chapels, the stations. Three mayor religions portioning one holy fenced mountain, and in consequence hoards of devoted ones who, sadly, just care about crossing out the next stop on their list or rub the next holy stone. Do they care about the current situation of the place? About the people of the place? Do they care at all about the place? Or is it just about being able to say that they where here and take enough pictures to prove it? I care, but honestly, that doesn't make me less of a tourist. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it, and got a glimpse of the contention that goes on in the quartered city.

Later that day, we met with a woman from ICAHD (israeli coalition against house demolitions) www.icahdusa.org, she took us to East Jerusalem through Palestinian neighborhood and inside the Maale Adumim settlement, and even if she hadn't said a word, that little ride would have been enough to have the word injustice roaming my brain and heart for a long while.

Jul 25, 2012

Refugee camp

Yesterday we visited the De Heishee refugee camp in Bethlehem, an entire day has passed and I'm still trying to process the experience.
This refugee camp is managed by the UN on Jordanian land. The refugees left their homes and their land and their belongings for what was supposed to be two weeks only, 60 yeas later they are still waiting and hoping to return. For some of them the offense is even greater since they can see their land from the camp; some if which has never been developed.
The piece of land given to a family of 6 has become the base of a stack of stories, each for every new generation of the original family, one generation on top of the other one, leaving some houses without any sunlight. Despite their situation this community have to endure, there is an amazing effort to to not let their spirits be broken. They manage to keep it clean, (they didn't have sewage until a few years ago), keep it some how habitable. I saw a lot of playful kids, they would come out and say hi, yes, they speak English and they like to talk, and that little chat just makes me think that if a community manages to keep their kids in that state of innocence, in a way they are winning this battle.
(disclaimer: I'm posting from my phone, please excuse my spelling and autocorrect)


We arrived to Tel Aviv two days ago, surprisingly we didn't have any problems entering the country. Then rode the bus through the countryside, through Jerusalem and finally through checkpoint 300 into Bethlehem.
We are staying at the ICB (international Center of Betlehem) or Diyar www.Diyar.ps The place is like a little oasis in the center of Bethlehem built by the Finnish government.

Jul 23, 2012

Leaving the "land of opportunities"

I have never been to NY, always tried to avoid the big city when traveling trough the state; but being on a plane flying over this territory that gradually changes its color from the deepest green splattered with, I'd like to say blue, but sadly is brown water, to a grayish zippered green into finally a true concrete gray; the gate into the land of opportunities, I can't help it I find myself looking for her, I have a feeling she's there hiding between all that gray raising from the water... And then I see her. An overwhelming feeling of sadness, excitement, and melancholy gets into my very core. I imagine the countless immigrants that came trough that gate, some escaping, some looking for opportunities. I think of displacement through physical, economic, social violence. I think about my own situation, being an immigrant leaving the "land of opportunities" through this same gate to go to one of the most oppressive places in the world, where those who have been there for countless generations are constantly forced to emigrate their beloved land or become prisoners in it.
Good bye lady Liberty! We are off to the Holy Land.

Jul 4, 2012

Resiliency print

It's true... my website was swallowed by a cyber monster.  Long story, but in short a very frustrating experience, and an important lesson learned.
So all I'm left with for now, is;  this blog, an Etsy site and a Facebook page; oh, sure a Twitter account too.

I am still trying to raise funds to pay for my trip to the Holy Land, one way is by selling prints. There is more information in two previous posts below, but basically I am selling 50 prints @ $35 each. And by selling them all I should be able to cover that expense at least. Donations are also welcome, there is a link on the side panel for that.

If you wish kindly offer your support by buying a print, they are available on my Etsy site; or there is always the option of buying directly from my studio in Grand Rapids.

I should say that I am 1/3 away from my goal, and it has been such a beautiful experience to receive so much support, affection, encouragement and sympathy from my local community and beyond.

Thank you

Jul 3, 2012

Infinite thanks!!!

I've got a late start... But the moment I announced I was granted an art residency in the Holy Land and my urgent need to raise funds; I was showered with sympathy, financial support, and all kinds of help and love.
I got checks in the mail,  online donations, over-payments for prints, etc. And when I was feeling sick under the stress of throwing a big fundraising party; I was overwhelmed by the amount of help I received from friends and "acquaintances"

I am still overwhelmed, and loving my community more than ever. This trip hasn't started yet, and I feel like I have experienced, and learned so much from it already. I still need to raise 1/3 of the funds, but nonetheless can happily announce that my Grand Rapids community is sending me to the Holy Land.

Here is a very ambitious attempt:

Thanks to:
 Joel Skendzel, for being the best landlord and putting up with my countless ideas of events.
Cabildo, for putting up with my innumerable requests and for playing such amazing music
Drew Nelson, for his inspiring lyrics, beautiful music and unbelievable generosity.
Carlos Aceves, for all the amazing food that made our bellies sooo happy
David McGowan, for documenting the event with the most timely shots I could've wished for.
Kate Avila, the best printing assistant!
Mariano Avila, for starting it all.
The beautiful Moon
Garry Perrine, Billy Bennett, Sharri LaPierre, my studio mates: Elaine Dalcher, Tommy Allen and Michael Pfleghaar, the unconditional Bivinses, Ramirez' and Siegenthaler's,  printmaking mama Sarah Scott,  all the MAM gang, Wendy Marty, Amanda Narvaes, Steve Davison and Steve Heintz, Alex Gilford, Josh and Rachel, Jason Shrier, Dianne Carroll Burdick, Jeff Smith and Colette Seguin, Cathryn Young, Dan Vandesteeg, the Rumsey's, Frederic Voisin, Dave Huizenga, Ron Lichtenstein, Heather Bryant, the Hollemans, Josh Duggan, Renee and Eric... Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
I know I must be missing many more...

For those who happen to be on Facebook, here is a link to the album

Jul 2, 2012

Cabildo playing at my fundraising event. Thanks to Tommy Allen who recorded it.