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.

11 comments:

Deborah Boschert said...

I'll add my thanks to Dan and other mavericks in our military!

I love how the brand is coming right at me with its burning hot letters. I see what you mean about the handle of the iron getting lost in the camo.

There are a lot of angles to consider with this subject matter. It would be interesting to explore with a little more space... I think 20x12 is too restricting for all you wanted to explore.

I also love that line of red/orange stitching rising off the brand.

Gerrie said...

What a great idea. Dan Choi is one of my military heroes. Deborah is right - this needed to be larger than the space allowed. I didn't see the handle until you explained it so was a bit confused at first, but I think showing that view of the branding iron is a great idea. The searing hot letters makes a great focal point.

Diane Perin Hock said...

I so appreciate your honoring Dan Choi in this piece! I have admired him tremendously, and agree that he's a great maverick example. I really like the idea of the flaming brand coming toward the viewer - but I must admit that I first saw the word as TOAD. (Not seeing the branding iron handle, I didn't get the concept at first that it was a reversed word, and until I read your description I wasn't sure what was going on.) So I really like the idea and how you've continued with your military series -- but if you were going to pursue this further, I'd suggest that the reversed branding iron be something that is unmistakable. It's a great concept and I love the torn/burne fabric piece on the bottom.

kirsty said...

Wow, awesome concept!! As the others have said, you really just needed more space than our format allows. Even so, it's a powerful message and the glowing branding iron is an equally powerful image.

Brenda Gael Smith said...

Although I didn't recognise the DADT acronym, the branding imagery with the military background is unmistakeable and that pulls you in to learn more.

Terri Stegmiller said...

I didn't notice that this was a branding iron until I read your write up. Good idea!

Karen said...

I'm so glad you kept to the army theme wirh this Kristin, it's a very moving commentary on a sad situation

Nikki said...

I agree!

I was able to see a lot more of the detail when I clicked on the picture to make it bigger and I'm sure in person would be even better. Very powerful and I can feel the heat of the brand.

Helen Conway said...

Maybe you could go back in and paint the handle of the branding iron with metalic paint to make it stand out more? I had to Google Dan Choi which is a good thing.. I love art that teaches me.

Françoise said...

I think the idea is great, and the red letters say indeed branding iron even if the handle is bit hidden. I didn't remember Dan Choi's name either.

Terry Grant said...

Really effective, though it is a bit obscure at first. I looked at the brand as "Dad T" and wondered who that was, then went "Duh!--Don't ask, don't tell!"