Monthly Archives: November 2016

Liberty Leading the People: Art Reflects History

Aberlemno Stone #2: The Battle of Nechtansmere, reverse of Pictish carved stone, Aberlemno kirkyard, Scotland photograph ©2012 Amy Funderburk, All Rights Reserved

Aberlemno Stone #2: The Battle of Nechtansmere
reverse of Pictish carved stone, Aberlemno kirkyard, Angus, Scotland
photograph ©2012 Amy Funderburk, All Rights Reserved

As the world watched, there certainly seemed to be no room for a grey area reaction to this November’s US presidential election. It is no secret that this nation finds itself tremendously polarized, resulting in a cycle as pockets of violence born of fear create yet more fear.

In her post-election article, “Dear Artists: We Need You More Than Ever,” Katherine Brooks, Senior Arts and Culture Editor for the Huffington Post, quoted writer Toni Morrison:1

“This is precisely the time when artists go to work.”

Of course, artists have been a mirror for society for centuries, documenting and satirizing historic events. The famed Pictish carved stone from Aberlemno, Scotland shown above depicts a battle, most commonly believed to be the famous Battle of Nechtansmere, an important Pictish victory fought in 685 CE.

Certain dissident artists, including Ai Weiwei from China, are well known for work that is steeped in social activism or political commentary. One look at Guernica, Picasso’s mammoth monochromatic painting from 1937 in which he depicted the brutal bombing of a northern Spanish village, can show just how powerful the voice of an artist can be.

According to legend, during the Nazi occupation of Paris, Picasso’s apartment was raided. After seeing a photograph of Guernica, an officer asked the artist, “Did you do that?” Picasso replied, “No, you did.”

“If I haven’t fought for my country at least I’ll paint for her.”

— Eugène Delacroix

In 1830, the French Romantic artist Delacroix painted Liberty Leading the People. His masterpiece was apparently considered so politically revolutionary that it was placed in storage for years after being purchased by the French government. 2

In sharp contrast to the sequestering of the Delacroix work, Picasso’s Guernica went on tour to raise international awareness for the Spanish Civil War. The artist decreed that the painting could not enter Spain, however, until the country enjoyed “public liberties and democratic institutions.”3

Both Delacroix and Francisco Goya are frequently cited as influences on Picasso as he planned Guernica. In Goya’s stirring work completed in 1814, The Third of May, 1808 in Madrid, the artist shows an emotional event: French troops systematically massacring Spanish freedom fighters.

In juxtaposition to such dramatic imagery of specific historic events, even the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and their followers based certain works on social themes, including the plight of the Victorian woman.4 Through allegory and symbol, these British artists reacted against what they perceived as the societal ills brought about by the Industrial Age.

Art reflects history and preserves it for the future like a time capsule. Art is a catalyst for change, growth, and self-awareness. If you are a fellow artist moved by current events, think about how your visual voice can make a difference.

One of my friends in New York City, artist and photographer Gina Fuentes Walker, told me about the Subway Therapy project, a wall at the Union Square subway station now overflowing with primarily uplifting messages written on sticky notes by passers-by. Artist Matthew Chaves (who goes by Levee) started the community project to give people a place to express their feelings about current events. 5

“I was quite moved by the project because in addition to participating in a collaborative art installation, it was a moment to gather and come together as neighbors and residents of the city,” Gina said. Participants were respectful during their visit to the Subway Therapy wall, she added. “Occasionally the adhesive gave way and a message floated to the floor. Someone always picked it up and reattached the note to the wall.” This is a perfect example of how a simple idea can have powerful results and how art has the potential to make a difference in people’s lives whether they directly participate or are moved by the messages of others.

“Art is one of the most positive reaffirming things we can do in the face of adversity,” says Camille Seaman, who affects change with her stunning photographs of the melting Polar Regions.6 A champion for the issue of Climate Change, her recent works include portraits of the First Nations water protectors at Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota.

What is happening now politically has made me examine my own body of work, and what I aim to say through my imagery about the significance of the landscape and human condition.

However you may have voted, we can all make a difference. In my opinion, subjects that benefit everyone like the environment and the arts should be non-partisan. Such things that nurture the soul should be safeguarded.

If you are an art appreciator, now is the perfect time to be a patron for your favorite creatives who give voice to your shared points of view.

If you are a fellow artist, let’s roll up our sleeves now and get to work.

All the best, and Namaste,


Detail of Aberlemno Stone #2: the Battle of Nechtansmere Aberlemno kirkyard, Angus, Scotland photograph © Amy Funderburk 2012, All Rights Reserved

Detail of Aberlemno Stone #2: the Battle of Nechtansmere
Aberlemno kirkyard, Angus, Scotland
photograph © Amy Funderburk 2012, All Rights Reserved

1 Katherine Brooks, “Dear Artists: We Need You More Than Ever – A Trump Presidency Requires Artists Get Political,”, November 10, 2016
2 Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker, speakers. “Delacroix, Liberty Leading the People,” Video, Khan Academy, accessed November 28, 2016, “Guernica: Testimony of War,” accessed November 30, 2016. 
4 Christopher Wood, The Pre-Raphaelites (New Jersey: Crescent Books, 1994) 12
Malcolm Warner, The Victorians: British Painting, 1837-1901 (Catalog for the exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, New York: Harry N Abrams, Inc., 1996)

5 “Subway therapy: Artist creates an outlet for postelection venting in NYC,” Yahoo News, November 11, 2016, 
Michelle Young, “Governor Andrew Cuomo Adds Post-It Note to Union Square Subway Therapy Project,” Untapped, November 15, 2016,
Check out #SubwayTherapy to view examples and learn more about this project. You can find Gina on Twitter @gfuenteswalker and check out her work by visiting

6 Currently Camille is seeking sponsorship through a GoFundMe campaign, “Into the Ice: Return to Antarctica.” ( You can discover her haunting iceberg photographs and other works on her website, 


Posted in Current Events, General art discussion and philosophy, Inspirational Quotes, Other artists Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Your First Look at Studio 111

Studio 111: gallery side, first look November 8, 2016 ©2016, artwork ©2004-2013 Amy Funderburk, All Rights Reserved

Studio 111: your first look at the gallery side
November 8, 2016
©2016, artwork ©2004-2013 Amy Funderburk, All Rights Reserved

Studio 111 is coming along! Between painting trim and windows, installing light fixtures, and handling other assorted prerequisites to set up my new creation space, settling in has been a slower process than I imagined. It seems all the slower when compared to how very quickly everything had flowed to get me to this location!

Here is your first look at the so-called gallery side of my space, where I will showcase completed, framed pieces. In this area, you can get a feel for what the artwork might look like in your home.

What you see on the wall to your left is just the start of what will ultimately be a salon-style installation – not my favorite style of art presentation to be certain, but a necessity in this studio.

As you can see, I had the electricians move the chandelier from the working side of the studio to the gallery side, and I think it looks quite stylish! This warmer light was not helpful among the cooler, daylight bulb shop lights, but by showcasing the fixture on the other side, it has become a real asset.

Next month, I’ll give you a peek at the working half of the space. I look forward to your seeing the new studio in person!

Want to see where the artistic magic happens? Contact me to make an appointment for a private studio visit.

Above: Artwork from left to right, all works © Amy Funderburk All Rights Reserved:
Sunset at the Mooghaun Hillfort (oil on linen, 22″ x 15″, © 2004); Second Sight/2nd Site (diptych, oil on oil primed linen, 12″ x 30″, © 2012); Turtle’s Progress (oil on linen, 17″ x 24″, © 2011-12); Red Mother (watercolor and holy water from the Chalice Well on paper, 5″ x 7″, © 2009); The Wild Trees of Madron (archival pigment print, 12″ x 18″, © 2012); Savasana – the Release (oil on linen, 44″ x 32″, © 2008-11); The Track to Nowhere (archival pigment print, 12″ x 18″, © 2012); corner: Central tree trunk post, The Wishing Tree installation (wood and bark, © 2012); Well of the Creatrix (oil on linen with holy water from the well in the gesso layers, 30″ x 36″, © 2007); bottom: Double Rainbow Over Loch Ness (archival pigment print, 18″ x 12″, © 2013); top: Cloud Planet with Jack-o-Lantern Face, Corrimony Cairn (archival pigment print, 18″ x 12″, © 2013); Manifestation of Rabbit (oil on linen, 30″ x 36″, ©2007); Knockfennell by the Shores of Lough Gur (watercolor pencils on paper, 7.5″ x 8.5″, © 2005)

Posted in The Artist's Studio