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The Underground

Saxon and I went on another excellent adventure. This time we went to Fayetteville, Arkansas. It’s only an hour drive from where we live. Arkansas, home of the Ozark Mountains, is absolutely gorgeous. And here’s some FYI: The Clintons used to live in Fayetteville before he became Governor of Arkansas. They taught law at the University of Arkansas. UofA is one of the reasons Fayetteville has such a youthful, hippie, artsie vibe.

Saxon and I went to Fayetteville to check out one of our favorite art galleries—The Underground. They were having a showing of the works of VL Cox. VL Cox, a woman, grew up in Arkansas. She experienced first-hand what it was like to live and grow up in Trumplandia. (I refer to racism disguised as Christianity in America as Trumplandia.)

As I wandered from exhibit to exhibit I became more and more emotional. By the time I through, I was in tears. I have never been so emotionally affected by art.

It started with this sign posted outside the gallery:

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The first exhibit showed a female mannequin under an American flag. It looked as if the woman was trying to burst through the flag, but instead was being smothered. I think every woman can relate to this.

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The next piece of art was titled “Stained.” She used pages from the Bible, which she fashioned into tea bags, then made into a representation of the American flag. It shows us the harm that conservatives and the Tea Party have done to America.

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The next installation was too big for me to capture in one photo. I had to use three photos instead. (One of the photos shows my cutie-patootie wife!) This installation is a moving one – meaning it actually moves around the country. Cox loves to put it near state capitols for all to see.

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Here’s another good one. It shows a Bible being thrown into a metal sign. (Note the bullet holes also in the sign.) It is titled “Ready, Aim, Fire and Brimstone.” The artists says it represents “how easily the Bible is thrown around these days.”

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I’m not going to show you pictures of every piece of art. I’m afraid WordPress would explode. So, I’ll show you two more that hit home with me.

This piece is entitled “White Bread.” It is painted on a real screen door. The artist made this after learning about a Klan camp held each summer at the National Ku Klux Klan headquarters in Harrison, Arkansas. (Only two hours from my home!) Parents send their kids to this camp to learn how to be a proper racist. Notice the teddy bear is facing backwards to represent loss of innocence. This gave me goosebumps.

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I didn’t get the name of this next piece. That’s how moved I was. And my photos aren’t too good either. Hard to take pictures when you’re crying. This is a real KKK outfit, worn to many a real lynching. When you look closely, there are blood spatters on the robe. This is one of the eeriest, most moving art installations I’ve ever seen.

(as a side note, I just found out that my great-grandfather was a member of the Oklahoma KKK. So, mix in some shame with the other emotions.)

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If you’re ever anywhere near Fayetteville, Arkansas, I urge you to visit The Underground. They do new, unusual, and subversive works. Also, keep an eye out for VL Cox. You can read more about her and her work here. Her art has been called a “wake-up call” and a “slap in the face.” And it sure was.

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Comments on: "The Underground" (4)

  1. Karen Hesse said:

    Thanks for this post. These images are powerful.

  2. Anne Hagan said:

    Thank you for documenting your visit and sharing it.

  3. woofmew said:

    wow! thanks for going, and thanks for sharing!

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