Political Art : Redirecting Rage and the SCOTUS decision

Mixed media acrylic painting about the SCOTUS decision to reverse Roe v Wade. Transcribed into the painting are excerpts from the leaked SCOTUS opinion. Imagery includes a depiction of a uterus and a canary. The canary has a collar of red thread sewn in stitches across its neck. Political Painting by Michigan Artist Taryn Okesson.

“Many of us were the unplanned children of talented, creative women whose lives had been changed by unplanned and unwanted pregnancies. We witnessed their bitterness, their rage, their disappointment with their lot in life and we were clear that there could be no genuine sexual liberation for women and men without better, safer contraceptives, without the right to a safe, legal abortion.” 

 bell hooks, Feminism Is for Everybody

I Made a Painting With My Anger

On a Friday, ominously, I picked up this painting to finish off the details. Just after setting it on my easel I opened an app and was slapped in the face with news that our Supreme Court struck down Roe v Wade. I started this piece when the draft opinion was leaked weeks ago. Aghast at the CDC citation of needing a domestic baby supply.

As part of this piece’s process I transcribed excerpts from the draft, searing them into memory, like I was taking notes for a multiple choice test. Rage might be the word that describes my feelings. Somehow it doesn’t feel strong enough to encompass the enormity of the moment, or my own impotence against this conservative machine hacking away at my beautifully diverse educated country. My country, the one I grew up in, the one I want to love, is not homogenous, christian and whitewashed.

Detail Image during creation of piece.

Rage, ferocious anger, skin flaying exasperation pierced my guts as I rewrote the stupidest arguments for why Alito had no choice but find the Constitution didn’t protect Women’s rights. He found that in all of “Anglo” history there was never a time when the law legalized abortion. In all of American history abortion was illegal. Criminal. Therefore, the fourteenth amendment could not be used in the ruling of Roe v Wade. In the same breath, this opinion, cited the Supreme Court rectifying previous rulings on civil rights as precedent for revisiting “settled law” like Roe v Wade.

For all of history women were second class brood mares for the men. With no autonomy and no choices. No vote. No rights to property. And these are the laws that the Supreme Court is going to look at as reason for taking our rights away now. Because historically those rights didn’t exist, and shouldn’t exist now, except for where the Court heroically fixed those civil rights rulings. I imagine that the Justices believe that they are brilliant and we, the peasants, are too stupid to understand the hypocritical lazy argument being penned to castrate women’s rights.

Taryn Okesson
A Song of Women’s Rights for SCOTUS
20” x 15” x 1/2”
Acrylic, Ink, Worn Linen, and it’s Thread on Canvas

My canary sings its song. I stitched it a collar and a leg band while vibrating on that dark Friday’s news. My canary sings its song, stuck in the moment between draft leak and official opinion. By this time other contentious Supreme Court decisions came out▪️

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Oops! That’s mine. All images on this site belong to Taryn Okesson©️