Monday, October 1, 2012
Don't Brand Dan
First, I was watching last week's episode of the TV show Fringe last night, and one of the characters was hanging out in his apartment watching the James Garner series Maverick. Ha! Then, towards the end of the show, another character was sitting in a car, thinking about loss and regrowth, and there was a lone dandelion popping through a crack in the pavement. Very full circle and connected.
This was a tough challenge for me. I never really got a good handle on how I wanted to approach it. After much thinking and procrastinating, I decided to choose someone who I thought was a maverick, and portray them through the branding that is the origin of the word. Because most of my other 2012 pieces relate to Army life in one way or another, that is where I chose to look for my maverick.
In my mind Dan Choi is most certainly a maverick. He chose to go against the passive flow of the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy in the military and come out while he still served. He felt it was dishonorable to wear the brand of Army Officer and necessarily lie or omit about his sexual orientation. And on the other hand, once out and branded as gay, he was excluded from the profession which he loved. So, Don't Brand Dan, or any other service member. Allow them to be truthful to themselves and to serve their country honorably (and let's get working on DOMA -- oddly, I think it's the military which will lead the way in repealing that as well). The two things (being true to one's self and service to the military) need not be mutually exclusive.
I am grateful to Dan Choi for being such a maverick and for being instrumental in the repeal of the DADT policy. Unfortunately, I don't think my small quilt does him or the gay rights movement justice. I was not careful enough in my placement of the camo uniform fabric and so the branding iron is a bit hard to read. Overall the concept is pretty literal, and while technically well made, the artwork is flat visually and conceptually. I had time to redo it, but I just didn't know where to go with it. Proof that fabulous work does not always or naturally flow from our hands.