“Hush!” Image Details

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Kim Vanderheiden, detail from “Hush!” (2015) 42×54 inches, monotype, letterpress, pen & ink, pencil, solar etching, watercolor, and acrylic on torn paper collage.

When I began this piece on the Miranda Warning and the role of silence with respect to justice, I did not intend to reflect race among the nest people. The figures were planned to be of neutral media reflecting a core human experience – the fear of talking when something frightening, shameful, personal, or painful needs to be shared in order for a just and healing outcome to take place.

Hush_SparrowHawkDetailHowever, when I created the etching plate, the tone of my pencil lines came out surprisingly dark. I thought for a bit about that. I could start over, make adjustments in my process, and make a new plate closer to my initial intent. But I also considered the often painful relationship between our present justice system and people of color. I decided the people in the nest would reflect the ratio of race in  our prison population.

It is significant to me that it’s unclear whether the sparrowhawk perched on the nest will protect or devour the nest people. Whether victims, transgressors or both, the nest people are vulnerable, and their stories remain concealed in the egg which has not hatched.

The sparrowhawk from a piece entitled, "Hush!" about the dilemmas of maintaining protective silence during legal proceedings.