New Work

Voting is a fundamental tenet in the United States, as both a simple decision-making tool and a manifestation of democracy.  This ballot box could be for an early frontier Congressional race, 7th-grade class officers, or a neighborhood street light project.  As a symbol of an American narrative, the box shows signs of wear over long use and is now framed by danger.

Although voting rights of free white males are enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, Black men did not gain suffrage until the Fifteen Amendment in 1870, but which was later undermined during Jim Crow Era poll taxes, property ownership, and unfair literacy tests to prevent Blacks from voting.  


Women did not win the right to vote until 1920 with the Nineteenth Amendment, the fight for which had begun in the mid-nineteen century. Native Americans, not considered citizens until 1924, sought voting rights state by state through 1962, when all states conceded.  Full enfranchisement provisions were enshrined in the 1965 Voting Rights Act which prohibited “discrimination on account of race, color or language minority” and prevented any jurisdiction from abridging the right to vote -- but were later weakened by a Supreme Court decision in 2013. 

Even after the 1965 Voting Rights Act, people of color – both men and women – often were actively discouraged from voting.  The 116th Congress is considering the 2020 Voting Rights Act which restores the 1965 Act and offers further voter protections.

Foreign interference has undermined the integrity of our election process -- an attack on democracy.  With recent postal restrictions and given efforts at voter suppression of people in some states, the universal right to vote is at risk.  Every vote is a voice heard.

Looking Out 18X24 Acrylic on canvas (S)
Have We a Spare?
12X16, framed
Acrylic on canvas
VOTE 14.5X13, framed
Acrylic on canvas and frame

While living through this grim and grueling time of pandemic, I am looking out the window a lot.  The stay-at-home order for nonessential (dreadful word) workers and seniors and health-compromised who can make only necessary forays outside now grieve normalcy and endure the lassitude of looking out.

Those who do/must go to work risk danger every day.  For them, “looking out,” means something entirely different, as they are looking out for and taking care of the rest of us, even while looking out less for themselves.

I look out in remembrance of those who have died of this virus and am heartbroken for the bereaved who were unable to spend last moments with their loved one.  I look out in sorrow for those who have no window from which to look out.

There are, for fortunate me, books to read, friends to call, art to make, seeds to plant, closets and cabinets and cupboards to re-organize, but I come back to looking out.

Crux 18X24
Acrylic on canvas
Shadow Vase 16X20 Framed
Mixed media on canvas
Urban Flowers 16X20
Mixed media on canvas (S)

There are many connections among living things: a commonality of both needs and satisfactions, a dependence upon self and others, and loss in the face of disaster and disease.  No Borders represents a desire to be aware of self-imposed restrictions in the world.

Magenta Flowers 18X24 Acrylic on canvas
No Borders 16X20
Acrylic and graphite on canvas, framed
City Limits 8X10
Mixed media on canvas

This piece was inspired by a friend who disclosed an assault and the continuing emotional and physical violence in her youth.  It symbolizes the potential for all women to be subject to verbal, emotional and physical assault.  Victims, usually but not always women, can be any ethnicity, age, religion, appearance, stance, sexual orientation, body type or economic status.  The feeling of protection by virtue of class, race, or age is false.


According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center,

1 in 6 U.S. women has been victims of rape or attempted rape.  And it is estimated that only ¼ of those crimes are reported.  Based on Department of Justice statistics, RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) projects that every 92 seconds an American woman (or man or transgender individual) is sexually assaulted, with those aged 12 – 34 being most at risk.


Some believe women invite assault by being provocative, uppity, or rule-breakers.  The #MeToo phenomenon has mitigated that belief somewhat -- merely by the sheer numbers of those proclaiming -- but many, often including the victims themselves, are sure that some certain behavior or attitude encourages assault.  Victims can feel they are somehow responsible and may feel guilt and shame.  Hopefully, loved ones are supportive -- but can also project shame and responsibility, despite believing in the independence and competence of the victim.


Those who assault do so, I believe, as a means of humiliation, subjugation, and domination of their victim -- with varying degrees of accompanying violence.  Perpetrators seldom face justice, as this crime is difficult to prove and victims may be unwilling to endure the trauma of a trial. 


For those who are assaulted, this horrifying memory never leaves, and it influences, directly or indirectly, future actions.


National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800.656.4673

Everyday Danger 15X30 Mixed Media on canvas
BirdWoman 20X20 Acrylic and charcoal on canvas (S)
BirdWoman3 16X20
Acrylic on canvas (S)
BirdWoman2 20X24
Acrylic on canvas
BirdWoman4 20X24
Acrylic on canvas
Ca Hills Winter 2 18X24 Acrylic on canvas
Ca Hills Winter 18X24 Acrylic on canvas
Shaded Path 24X24
Acrylic on canvas

During the stay-at-home time, I took an online course emphasizing mark-making made in layers to discover an emerging subject or image. This approach brought a freedom that I will try to incorporate into my work.

Follow the Birds 24X24 Acrylic on canvas
South of the... 12X36 Mixed Media on canvas

This depicts the appalling treatment of asylum-seekers and immigrants at the U.S. Southern border. 


The lyrics from South of the Border came from 1939 sheet music found at two different yard sales and propelled the piece with the theme of broken promises.

(c) Judy Rookstool 2019