Artist Statement on Metamorphosis by Charlotte Shristi
In the process of finding photographs of downtown Harrisonburg and painting a fairly realistic imagined scene of court square in the future, the global COVID-19 pandemic unfolded. My painted vision of Harrisonburg’s downtown included buildings with roof-top gardens and solar farms, light-rail train, reforested pedestrian mall surrounding the square, open-air farmers’ market and café seating and a park with children playing on the shore of a small pond.
However, this painting wasn’t finished no matter how much I played with the details! Two additional images wanted to become focal points for the painting. The details of what a sustainable future looks like, became secondary to the how, of that transformation!
I had recently read an article* about the pandemic (and other crisis) offering an opportunity to be understood as a portal leading to transformation… a chrysalis. The pandemic has exposed the ways our society and our belief systems fail so many people, often the most vulnerable. Can we reimagine a social structure that includes and cares for all people as well as the planet whose life-support system makes our existence possible? What would this metamorphosis look like?
The other image comes from a number of prophesies of Indigenous American Nations. The Eagle and the Condor flying together represents the coming together of different people groups who need to share their knowledge and work together.
“When the Eagle and Condor once again fly wing tip to wing tip, it will herald a time of partnership, love and healing, and the Earth will come back into balance. When the People of the Eagle help the Condor soar again, they will cease making the choices that are destroying the Earth, and their own sense of isolation, unhappiness and stress will vanish. Together, they will make a new design for the children and for future generations, for the good of all life everywhere”**
The national/international mobilization to end police racism and brutality had not yet happened, but I see this vision of Eagle and Condor being relevant….calling forth transformation of systems of power and exploitation. The same domination world view leads to both the oppression of peoples and exploitation of the planet. We are in desperate need of a shift to a partnership world view where the well-being of the whole is valued, where black and brown lives are valued. Those struggling for a livable future, should also be struggling for a livable present and vice versa.
*What if the Virus is the Medicine? By Jonathan Hadas Edwards & Julia Hartsell, March 13, 2020
**Grandmothers Counsel the World: Women Elders Offer Their Vision for Our Planet By Carol Schaefer