Random Thoughts on The Freedom of Speech, Nostalgia, and The 4th of July

As I write, there is a man in jail vehemently defending his freedom of speech. He chose to exercise his freedom on public transportation, a Max train, by screaming hate speech at two teenage girls, one African American, the other Muslim. His harassment of the girls so escalated that three men placed themselves between the attacker and the girls. All three men were viciously stabbed, two of them fatally. On the evening news the attacker maniacally justified the stabbings as his right to protect his freedom of speech.

Portland remains traumatized by this act of horrendous violence that made national headlines; an act of savagery that simultaneously documents the very worst, and the very best of our community.

***

I learned about freedom of speech in the public elementary school of the small town where I grew up. Our teachers taught us to temper our opinions with civility and common sense: “Freedom of speech doesn’t allow you to yell, ‘Fire!’ in a crowded movie theater,” we were instructed. Or as another teacher graphically put it, “Your freedom of speech extends to the end of your nose,” meaning you have the right to say it, but your words may earn you a punch in the face.

Untitled

Untitled by Julianna Paradisi mixed media on vellum 2016

My nostalgic elementary school memories are charming, yet they were created during a time of great national unrest. I’m probably as young as an adult can be with a bona fide memory (not one created by archival footage) of the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. During the years my teachers were explaining Freedom of Speech to me and my classmates, Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated, and Robert Kennedy too. On the evening news throughout my elementary school years, we witnessed the Watts Riots, and learned four students at Kent State University were shot to death while protesting the Viet Nam war.

I learned “A punch in the face,” was a euphemism used by my teachers to explain to their students a world they struggled to understand.

***

Since the Tri Met stabbings, several random, less publicized stabbings have occurred in Portland.

I seldom drive. My chosen mode of travel is on foot. Since the stabbings, I’ve not walked the downtown as much as I used to. I’m not alone in restricting activity to reduce vulnerability to violence.

I’m told Muslim women wearing hajib are avoiding public transportation since the attack on the two girls. For some, public transportation is their only means of travel, and they’ve become isolated in their homes.

***

A few days ago, the sun rose bright, and warm. I decided to walk to a downtown department store to make a return. A block from the department store, I passed a Tri Met stop. I chose to not over think it.

In the women’s clothing department, I came around the escalator at the same time a Muslim woman wearing a hajib came around from behind a large rack of clothing. Neither of us are tall, which is why we didn’t see each other until we nearly collided. I startled, but she froze in place the way a deer crossing a road at night freezes in the sudden glare of oncoming headlights. Her beautiful, kohl-lined eyes heightened the image. But it was the tension of her body that told me she prepared for verbal attack.

I smiled, and said, “Hello.” The tension melted from her body. She smiled, and nodded. We went on our separate ways.

We were the same: two women venturing out alone, downtown, on a sunny day in the land of the free on 4th of July weekend.

Freedom of Speech, home of the brave, land of the free: This 4th of July I pause to think about what these words mean, and how they apply to my life. They’ve become simultaneously incongruous, and yet familiar.

What is the word for a nostalgia that includes memories of bigotry and hate?

This 4th of July, I honor those who fought for independence, creating America, my home, and who wrote The Constitution to protect our freedoms. I am proud to be an American. I am nostalgic for a country where freedom rings with civility and justice.

 

 

 

 

 

You Can Find Me Here

Calligraphy by jparadisi (not in Equine show; I just like it)

About Face is a new magazine in Portland, featuring interviews of local celebrities, artists, and entrepreneurs. You will find the summer issue by clicking here, then download the PDF by clicking on the cover thumbnail on the lower right sidebar.  If you scroll to page 70 you will find a small photograph of my painting Twenty-One, currently part of the Froelick Gallery group show Equine. There’s a little information about the painting as well. Equine runs through July 16, 2011.

Dr. Dean Burke at Millionaire Nurse Blog mentioned my post, 10 Things to Do On Time-Limited Medical Leave in the Nurse Blog Round Up: The Arse Sitting Edition. Thank you!

Equine Group Show at The Froelick Gallery for June First Thursday

Last night was the opening reception for the Froelick Gallery group show, Equine. I am fortune that my painting Twenty-Oneis included among the work of many accomplished artists. Tonight is First Thursday, and there is a reception for the show from 5:00 pm until 8:00 pm. The show runs all of June, through July 16, 2011.

The Froelick Gallery is located at 714 NW Davis Street, Portland Oregon, 97209.

Artist Statement for Twenty-One

The painting Twenty-One is inspired by the prehistoric drawings found on the walls of the Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave in France. These drawings, made before humans possessed written language, are the earliest known record of primordial expression, and they are images of horses. Later, humans learned to use symbols instead of pictures to create words. Inspired by the transition of pictorial language into words, the repetitive form of grazing horses in Twenty-One suggests ancient cuneiform. Impressed by stylus into clay tablets, cuneiform script marks the abstraction of pictorial expression into symbolic characters. It is the precursor of the modern  alphabet.

Twenty-One by jparadisi

June Art Show at The Froelick Gallery in Portland

In June, I have a painting in the horse-themed Equine, a group show at the Froelick Gallery, opening June 1-July 16, 2011.

The Unipiper Wishes You a Merry Christmas From Portland, Oregon

In Portland, Oregon, we have bumper stickers that read: Keep Portland Weird. Really, it doesn’t take that much effort, which is one of many reasons I love living here.

A coworker brought this YouTube video to my attention, and I’m sharing it with you. Merry Christmas!

Looking for Bombs and for Tumors: When Does Risk Outweigh Benefit?

November 27 2010, Pioneer Square, Portland, Oregon after foiled bomb plot. photo: jparadisi

On Friday night, to coin the phrase of writer Anne Lamott, I began the “sh#*tty first draft” of a new blog post discussing the TSA’s use of full body scan radiation at the airport. I’ve blogged before about how the health care industry looks to the airline industry for quality control ideas. The TSA uses two kinds of scanners, and one of them uses radiation with little safety monitoring for the cumulative exposure of their employees, airline passengers, or flight crews. Health care can provide quality control models of x-ray scanner safety to the TSA.

Overnight, my plans changed.

On Saturday morning, I awoke to the news that the FBI thwarted a terrorist bomb plot in my hometown of Portland, Oregon. 19 year-old Mohamed Osam Mohamud of Corvallis, Oregon tried detonating a van loaded with what he thought were 55-gallon barrels of explosives during the annual tree lighting ceremony in Pioneer Square, “Portland’s Living Room.” An estimated crowd of 10,000 people, many of them children, was gathered in the square. According to news reports, the terrorist said he wanted everyone “to leave the square dead or injured.” Thanks to FBI intervention, the bomb was inert.  No one was physically injured, but terrorism has found its way to my front door. I went to work on Saturday morning with a heavy heart.

When I found a tumor hidden like a bomb inside my body, I wasn’t 40 years old yet. Overnight, my life changed. Despite my personal experience, the new recommendations for mammograms suggest that risk outweighs the benefit of screening for most women under age 50. According to the task force, regular mammograms for women aged 40-49 over a 10 year period saves one life out of every 1,904 women screened. Their data suggests that the risk of breast cancer is too small to warrant mammograms for women younger than 50. Self-breast examinations, once vigorously encouraged, are no longer considered reliable.

I wonder how many people have to receive a full body scan in order to apprehend one suicide bomber at the airport? Are the enhanced pat downs effective? The TSA focuses on preventing mid-air explosions, but what prevents a terrorist from designing a less spectacular bomb that detonates in a crowded airport during a TSA pat down, or by a hidden accomplice while the suicide bomber steps into the scanner?  The car bomb in Pioneer Square did not arrive via the airport. Can the TSA’s addition of full body scans and enhanced pat downs really protect our society from malignant harm? At what point does risk outweigh benefit?

From Cradle to Grave: The Color White Reviewed in Willamette Week

Portland based art critic Richard Speer writes about the paintings of From Cradle to Grave: The Color White, my art show at the Anka Gallery, in the visual arts section of this week’s Willamette Week.

The highlights of the four-person show Kalos Eidos (Color/Beauty/Form) are the haunting paintings of Julianna Paradisi. The artist takes on the color white, normally associated with purity and nobility, and coaxes the creepiness out of it. Her eerie children in christening outfits, brides with empty eyes, and downright scary nurses in white uniforms are deeply unsettling. The fact that Paradisi is herself a registered nurse adds an additional layer of autobiography and ambiguity to the work.” by Richard Speer for WW, http://wweek.com/events/latest/visualarts/#36.49

The Anka Gallery will host an open house reception on Thursday, October 21, 2010 from 4pm to 7pm. From Cradle to Grave: The Color White is part of the group show Kalos Eidos, curated by Anna Solcaniova King.  The show closes October 29th.

From Cradle to Grave: The Color White Opens Oct 7 at The Anka Gallery

Sometimes My Surgical Mask Feels Like a Gag 2010 by JParadisi

If you’re in Portland, Oregon this week stop by the Anka Gallery and see my new series of paintings From Cradle to Grave: The Color White, and the work of three other featured artists.  The spacious Anka Gallery is located in the Old Town neighborhood’s Everett Station Lofts.  The opening reception is First Thursday, October 7, 6pm-10pm.

Art Exhibiton Mentioned in Off the Charts Post

From Cradle to Grave: The Color White

Thank you to American Journal of Nursing art editor, Sylvia Foley for mentioning my October show, From Cradle to Grave: The Color White in yesterday’s post on the AJN blog Off the Charts.

The link to Portland’s Anka Gallery is also appreciated!

Everything Takes Longer Than You Think It Will

First Communion (Paper Dolls) mixed media on paper 2010 jparadisi

Everything takes longer than you think it will.

I believe this to be true, so my strategy for managing the unexpected things that happen while preparing an art exhibition is allowing ample lead-time. Since I’ve been exhibiting for a while, I have a checklist of universal tasks such as documenting the work, updating business cards, making post cards, vinyl lettering, framing, etc. If the artwork is traveling to a gallery in another city, I build in time for packing and shipping too. Once the paintings are made, I begin crossing tasks off the checklist. Even so, the unexpected will occur.

Take yesterday morning, for instance. When I began this post, David was solving a printing problem we discovered the night before. Several hours later, he fixed the problem and we made the prints. However, it delayed their delivery to Luke’s Frame Shop for packaging a few days, because the ink has to dry and cure first.

Sometimes unexpected occurrences are positive. Last week, while showing the From Cradle to Grave: The Color White portfolio to Anna Solcaniova King (see Pulling a Rabbit Out of Her Hat: An Interview with Anna S. King), curator and co-owner of Anka Gallery, I discovered a new relationship between two of the paintings, strengthening each.

This morning, I’m writing my artist bio for the show. Maybe it’s my experiences as a cancer survivor and an oncology nurse that makes the task feel like a prelude to an obituary. I can’t help it. Nowadays, with electronic media, I’m aware that every word I write about myself is recorded somewhere in cyberspace. The days where an artist or writer could destroy early work, and preserve only the work they wished to represent them after their death, are over. Same with the artist’s statement. When my thoughts about From Cradle to Grave: The Color White deepen and mature over time, the words I write about the paintings today may someday contradict my insights of the future. I hate feeling committed to an inflexible opinion as if my thoughts are butterflies pinned to a board and hung on a wall in a picture frame. I want the freedom to explore and gain wisdom.

But a thoughtful artist statement is required, and so I do my best to express who I am, and what my painting and writing are about, knowing that if I’m lucky enough to live a long life, some of the information will change. Like my art, I am evolving.

Everything takes longer than you think it will.