No More Styx and Stones at Penticton Art Gallery

Artist Statement for No More

Like many others, I have been the recipient of physical, mental and emotional bullying all my life. So many times I wished those watching would stand up for me and say “hey, wait a minute…”, but no one ever did. Even now, in the Okanagan, I have first hand experience of how loyalty to one’s friends supersedes what is morally right, or kindness to another. Over the years, through processing my own experiences and exploring my identity, I became aware of patterns of behavior, not only in myself as victim, but others, both the aggressors and the bystanders. In becoming aware of my own personal triggers of perceiving myself as a victim, I have developed thought processes to re-route my
previously traditional response. I re-vision scenarios where I am no longer the just recipient, but instead, I am a witness trying to understand the source of anger or sadness or lack of education that provoked that aggressor’s hate. Hate is an expression of pain or anger or being threatened, and I understand now that hate directed outwards is not personal, but symbolic. This understanding has made me aware of what a gift it is to both myself and to that aggressor, in witnessing and acknowledging their pain along with my own, and this act of witnessing is transformative and powerful.

In any action, positive or negative, there are two types of people: the bystander, who witnesses, and the participants. Witnessing can occur before, during or after a situation. Even those bystanders who choose not to participate cannot avoid becoming part of the scenario. By making that choice, bystanders become the witness, and they stand by and share in what they see and hear. I believe that bystanders can choose to be the people who say “no more”, and these are the people who become heroes, who stand up and effect change for both the aggressor and the victim. I don’t think anyone is determined to be a hero. I believe heroes are reluctantly so.

What if Charron, the ferryman across the River Styx, said “No more”? What if he, the bystander, decided he was not going to participate in his traditional role of taking those condemned over to Hades over the river of hate?

I have always had sympathy for Charron. I’ve always imagined Charron takes up the mantle of pain for each person who uses his ferry, and that he can see through to their pain, the pain and anger that caused these people to be evil, but can do nothing about it.

He is a witness to both their crime and their past. Instead of traveling the river of hate, what if he were to examine it? What if he employed empathy and he, as a witness, was the cause of their transformation? The ferryman Charron, a bystander, a witness, previously thought to be powerless, a victim in and of his role, becomes the most powerful of all.

Acrylic Painting Bullying
No More 9×36 Mixed Media Julia Trops

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