A couple months ago I had one of those self-limited moments that my husband is particularly good at shattering. I was explaining to him that I really wanted to paint the earth without borders, especially areas of the world where there are territory disputes. I think at the time I felt held back by some bizarre lack of understanding of those issues, but in true form, my husband simply said: "then go do it."
Of course. That's always the answer.
He helped me brainstorm a list of disputed territories and of that list I chose to work on Kashmir and Jammu first. In case you don't know (because I really didn't) Jammu and Kashmir is the mountainous region on the northern border between India and Pakistan. The area is disputed and despite it also being "heaven on earth" and a vacation spot for Indians, there is much fighting and conflict there. The photos I have seen of the area have blown me away every time. I started following a few Pakistani photographers on Instagram and am still blown away by the stunning scenery they post. (Check out @pakistan_amazing and @aq_abbaxi)
There are two main reasons I chose this particular part of the world to paint first.
First, I am fascinated the geology of this region of the world. From satellite images, it is so obvious that India smashed into the rest of Asia millions of years ago and created the giant, wrinkly ripple that is the Himalayans and their surrounding hills. The impact the mountains have on weather is incredibly evident as well with a massive desert sitting behind them running into China.
Second, creating otherness and division is an obsession in this country and (as stated in my last post) I don't buy it. Jammu and Kashmir are regions with very different cultures than where I live and I am terrified of violence but, when I let go of my fear of our differences, I know we are all human and very much the same. I push myself to reach for the sameness through a mutual appreciation for beauty and painting somewhere you will never see in an American travel brochure.
Along with the giant Jammu and Kashmir painting, I have also recently been looking at the Mexico/USA border. Most of my fascination with painting the earth from satellite view comes from the fact that I can turn off all borders, but there are some places on earth where you don't need a superimposed line to see a border. That's how the Mexico/USA border is. Why? Because we've stolen all the water.
When I was studying resource economics (yes, that was my major...hence the fascination) I had a professor tell me that future wars will be fought over water. Not oil. Water. I believe this. Especially when you look at Calexico/Mexicali. The border between these two cities is so obvious it's shocking. Green, lush fields on one side; pale desert on the other. For a world where most borders can't be seen from space, it is a sad anomaly.
My challenge to you:
What region of the world have you ignored? Not even on your radar. Google it and find the beauty in it. It's there waiting to light up your day.
This work will be on view at The Hub University (941 N. Virginia, Reno, NV) for the month of May. Come say hello at the reception on May 19, 5-7pm!