PISLAP Article Features My Call to Use Art to Share Vision

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detail from "Lady Justice" (2015)

Kim Vanderheiden, detail from “Lady Justice” (2015) 70×100 inches, acrylic, letterpress, pen & ink, solar etching, pencil, watercolor on torn paper collage

An in-depth article I wrote for the Project for Integrating Spirituality, Law and Politics (PISLAP) was just published. In it I talk about the origins of the justice work that I’ve made, and call for making use of art, whether mine or others, to share a positive vision forward. The newsletter also shares an update on Restorative Justice DC, a book review of Transforming Justice, Lawyers and the Practice of Law, and the artwork of Brad Heckman. Please take a look:

http://mailchi.mp/3e89e92c1100/pislap-quarterly-newsletter?e=570bf05e5e

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Kim Vanderheiden, “Pando” (2016)

The Right to Remain Human now open at Dominican University

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“Kim Vanderheiden: The Right to Remain Human” opening reception tonight at Dominican University in San Rafael.

You have a right to remain human.
What you say can and will be heard by people who care about you.
You have the right to kindness, dignity, and connection to others.
If you have caused harm through criminal intention or negligence, you have the following obligations:
to listen and make reparations to the extent that you’re able;
to reveal your life openly to assist in preventing future harm;
to commit yourself to a path that prevents repeat offense.
If you are not willing or able to meet your obligations, your freedoms will be restricted to ensure public safety. Do you understand these rights and obligations? With these in mind, do you wish to speak openly about what happened and why?

January 17 – March 18, 2017
Opening Reception: Thursday, January 26th, 5:00-7:00 pm
Presentation and Walk-through: Friday, February 10th, beginning at 10:50 in 112 Guzman Hall
Closing Reception: Sunday, March 5th 3:30-5:00 pm


Dominican University
San Marco Gallery – Archbishop Alemany Library
50 Acacia Avenue, San Rafael, CA 94901
phone: 415.485.3251
Gallery/Library Hours:
M-Th 8:00 am – midnight    F 8:00 am-10:00 pm
Sa 9:00 am – 9:00 pm    Su 2:00 pm – midnight

The Right to Remain Human to Open at Dominican University

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Detail from “Lady Justice” (2015)

Kim Vanderheiden, detail from “Lady Justice” (2015) 70×100 inches, acrylic, letterpress, pen & ink, solar etching, pencil, watercolor on torn paper collage

Dates are now firm at Dominican University’s San Marco Gallery – “Kim Vanderheiden: The Right to Remain Human” showing from January 17th – March 18th, 2017. The opening reception is on Thursday January 26th, 4-6 pm, in the San Rafael, California. The San Marco Gallery is located on campus at the main entry of the Alemany Library building.

Follow here more about “The Right to Remain Human”

Kim Vanderheiden, “Black : White : Truth” (2015)

Kim Vanderheiden, “Black : White : Truth” (2015) 18×18 inches, letterpress, acrylic, pen & ink, torn paper collage.

Kim Vanderheiden, “Truth” (2015)

Kim Vanderheiden, “Truth” (2015) 18×18 inches, Letterpress, pen & ink, torn paper collage.

 

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Damian: portrait of an ISIS recruit, and a mother’s child

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Damian Clairmont

Damian Clairmont,” for the Blanket Project, an ongoing online exhibition. Kim Vanderheiden, pencil and ink, 2016.

Damian grew up in Calgary, Canada. After a period of severe depression as a teen that led to a suicide attempt after his 17th birthday, he converted to Islam. As his outlook became more positive, and he began to heal and socialize again, his family supported his new faith. After Damian moved away from home, he joined a new mosque, was approached by an Islamic State recruiter, began seeking extreme content online, and became radicalized, unbeknownst to his family. He went to Egypt, ostensibly to study Arabic. Shortly after, the Canadian government reported to his mother that he was suspected of being in Syria fighting with ISIS. He died at age 22, near Aleppo, executed by the Free Syrian Army.

His mother, Christianne Boudreau shares her son’s story with the public, working to educate families to be more aware of the process of radicalization and how to fight it. She began the Mothers for Life Network, which offers a support network for families who have lost loved ones to extremism. She also recommends extremedialogue.org for educational resources to counter extremist messages.

Here is a more detailed account of Christianne’s and Damian’s story (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/20/christianne-boudreau-son-isis_n_6911110.html ) Many other articles can be found online as well

This image of Damian was drawn from a home video provided by his family.

The Blanket Project is based on the swaddling blanket that many local children receive from hospitals as newborns. There are some people we feel great compassion for but don’t know how to help. There are some who require a lifetime of care, but we may forget about them in the busy day to day of our own lives. There are some for whom we may not feel inclined towards compassion because what they’ve done upsets us. There are some who are lost, and we don’t know how to reach them. There are some who have faced unimaginable pain, perhaps with great courage or perhaps not. In this body of work, I hope to share the holding of each person in heart and mind as we would our own child.

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Baby Zika

Baby Zika” for Blanket Project, an ongoing online exhibition. Kim Vanderheiden, pencil and ink, 2016.

For the children disabled by Zika and their families, in whichever country they live, that they may receive needed care and support throughout their lifetimes.

The Blanket Project is based on the swaddling blanket that many local children receive from hospitals as newborns. There are some people we feel great compassion for but don’t know how to help. There are some who require a lifetime of care, but we may forget about them in the busy day to day of our own lives. There are some for whom we may not feel inclined towards compassion because what they’ve done upsets us. There are some who are lost, and we don’t know how to reach them. There are some who have faced unimaginable pain, perhaps with great courage or perhaps not. In this body of work, I hope to share the holding of each person in heart and mind as we would our own child.

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3 Portraits, 3 Stories

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The other day I posted about the ongoing portrait project by artist Joe Ramos. I really wanted to include some of his subject’s stories. Scroll down for where you can see his work this week in person. Here are the stories:

Graham

Graham    © Joe Ramos

Graham © Joe Ramos image courtesy of the artist

“Graham came to Project Homeless Connect dressed neatly in a tie and casual jacket looking as if he was going to work in the financial district.  There was a haunting look in his eyes.

He came from a middle class family in Indiana, earned a college degree and worked as a social services case management worker.  After being responsible for an accident in which the death of another person occurred, he plunged into despair and became homeless.

Graham recently found work as a social services case worker but lives in a shelter which he doesn’t like.  “It’s demeaning having to stay in a shelter.” he says.  He ended the interview by saying “You have to advocate for yourself.”

Veronica

Veronica    © Joe Ramos

Veronica © Joe Ramos image courtesy of the artist

“I go to the library a lot every day and I look across the library and there’s the Bill Graham Civic Center and I look to see what’s being advertised there on their billboard.  And I look for Project Homeless Connect to come – you know, if I can come to it.  So I come here – they have it every other month I was told, so I try to make it to every one.”

Even though Veronica is not homeless and has a room in the Tenderloin she worries.  When asked what are some of the challenges she faces living in San Francisco she says:

“Homelessness.  I’m worried about it day-by-day if I’m going to have a roof over my head, you know, and income coming in.  I think about that every day, my living situation and shelter.  That’s what I have to face every day and if I’m going to get mugged – that’s about it.”

Veronica loves to draw and read and hopes to go to San Francisco City College and complete a degree in education and take art classes.

When asked to smile by the photographer she doesn’t and bluntly declares, “I want people to see me as I am.”

Charles

Charles     @ Joe Ramos

Charles @ Joe Ramos image courtesy of the artist.

Charles, a Kansas City, Missouri native was born with two sisters as a triplet and was later brought to live with an aunt.  He says he was the “wild one” and his aunt couldn’t deal with him.  His father later brought them to Los Angeles.  Charles says his father was tough with him and when he left home was when he learned street smarts.  He says “Living on the streets in San Francisco is rough.”

Charles didn’t finish school and dropped out in the third grade.  He says, “I can’t read but I have a mouth, I can talk.”  As a client and volunteer at Project Homeless Connect he’s become a familiar fixture and uses his verbal skills and jovial demeanor to procure people to have their portraits taken at the Story/Portrait area.

He declares, “ I am an American.  We forget how to be American and only worry about color of skin and going to war.  African Americans have a bad time.”

More to See

Ramos’s work can be seen this week at Alley Cat Books in San Francisco as part of the show, “A Home for the Homeless, Artists and Poets in search of an answer.”  There is a closing reception on Friday, August 26th at 6 pm.

You can also visit his website at http://www.joeramosphotography.com/

Joe Ramos: The beauty of people … who live without a home.

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alley-cat-photos-Ensuring the right to remain human is a struggle for justice that extends beyond the legal system and into our neighborhoods. San Francisco artist Joe Ramos upholds the humanness of people who are often categorized, overlooked and sadly, even sometimes despised. Ramos’s work is featured in a current show, “A Home for the Homeless, Artists and Poets in search of an answer” at Alley Cat Books in San Francisco. There is a closing reception on Friday, August 26th at 6 pm. I advise you to go and see this beautiful work in person.

"Latoya & Alan'te" © Joe Ramos 2016, image courtesy of the artist.

Latoya & Alan’te    © Joe Ramos 2016. image courtesy of the artist.

Ramos began providing portrait sittings in 2006 through the organization Project Homeless Connect, which offers medical and social services to the San Francisco homeless population. He has been providing portraits ever since, up to six times per year. His sitters include people living on the street, in the shelter system, in vehicles, and families with children who are in the school system yet have no permanent residence. After processing his photographs in Photoshop and printing them, Ramos sends a copy to the sitter, or to the sitter’s family if so requested. The subjects sometimes use the photographs to let family members know where they are and how they are doing.

"William" © Joe Ramos 2016. Image courtesy of the artist.

William     © Joe Ramos 2016, image courtesy of the artist.

Ramos studied photography with Richard Conrat, who was Dorthea Lange’s last assistant, and the connection shows. He captures his subjects with an honesty and sense of documentary reminiscent of Lange’s work, but with a greater hopefulness. Through his lens, one sees a tender and honest regard for his subjects. One sees the sitter’s beauty as a fellow human.

"Jane " © Joe Ramos 2016, Image courtesy of the artist.

Jane    © Joe Ramos 2016, Image courtesy of the artist.

You can find out more about Joe Ramos and his work at his website: http://www.joeramosphotography.com/

"V'lance" © Joe Ramos 2016, image courtesy of the artist.

V’lance      © Joe Ramos 2016, image courtesy of the artist.

"Noelle" © Joe Ramos 2016, image courtesy of the artist.

Noelle      © Joe Ramos 2016, image courtesy of the artist.

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Justice Conversation

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Do you have an idea, a quote, an author, a story, an image to share relating to any one of our justice systems? Please join the conversation!

You can also add by emailing me at “justice at kim vanderheiden dot com.”

I will kick things off by sharing why I have this page. When I began working on law-related artwork, I was looking at how our legal rights have evolved. Who and what was protected, and by and from whom? Whenever I talked to someone about where the justice system should evolve next, I heard so many interesting things that people had to say. I’ve been making artwork to share my own opinions, but I would love to record some of the other voices I’m hearing too. (more…)

Take a Breath

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Here is my mandala in progress. It shows the circular set of scales that I drew in the Lady Justice redepiction, but looking down from the top. The nest woven around it has this poem that I wrote, that I thought might be fun to share:

Take a Breath

Take a breath
with each of the children sleeping upstairs.
Take one with each of the neighbors
who are getting ready for work.
She is brushing her teeth.
He is fixing coffee.
Somewhere on this street, someone is coughing.
Take a breath with him.
Somewhere on this block, an exhausted mother
is sitting with her energetic infant, wishing for sleep.
Take a breath with her, and take another
with her grinning, gurgling child.

Somewhere in this city, a man is lifting weights.
Breathe out with him as he pushes out the bar.
A woman is in labor. Breathe with her.
A frail man is fighting an impossible illness
and is close to losing.
Take a small breath.
Take a small breath.
Take a small breath, with each of them
Who are barely breathing.
And with each of them who are sleeping.
And with each of them in their cars,
thinking of the things they think
to begin their day.

In the next city is a husband at work.
He’s on the phone. Breathe with him.
Somewhere, at this very moment,
a baby’s lungs fill with air for the very first time.
Take a breath. Look, here is another!
And breathe with the mother,
and breathe with the father,
looking into the new child’s eyes
and wondering who is there.
Somewhere, at this very moment,
Someone is curled up in fear, dreading
the coming day, the next moment.
This one, too, barely breathes.
Someone is praying.
No matter that she is not your religion.
Take a breath with her.
Someone is eating.
No matter that you do not like that food.
Take a breath and savor its aroma.

Now for the hard part.
Someone is being raped and
Someone is doing the raping.
Take a breath with each of them.
They were both the new child, too.
Someone is nervously drinking a cola for breakfast
Breathing out through cold fizz,
carefully ignoring the .38 in his sock
and his plans for later today.
Someone is breathing in tobacco, someone cocaine.
Go ahead, breathe with them.
Don’t pretend that you know nothing
of the gaping hole that this one and that one
don’t know how to fill.
Someone behind bars is almost conscious of your breath
because of how it tastes of a different life.

This one chokes on anger and grief, and tries
to refuse to breathe.
This one exhales a litany of rage.
Join it anyway. Now this breath,
it smells of socks, and this of mold,
this of rotting food, of stale urine, and this of shit.
This smells of hunger, this of bitterness, and this of hate.
If only you could breathe into them with springtime,
earth, cut grass, or molasses cookies.
And here is a grandmother breathing springtime,
earth, cut grass, and molasses cookies.
Sometimes this child walking slowly to school can smell them.
Sometimes the pedophile and the pimp can smell them.
On occasion, the child locked in the hotel room of
onion sweat and cigarette butts can remember them.
Breathe with them.

There is a diver climbing back onto the beach
tasting of salt and fish. His body is tuned
to the roar and whisper of waves.

– Kim Vanderheiden