Kumiko S. McKee - In This Life Images - Power on the Earth

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Power on the Earth
Oil Painting on masonite
28 x 48 inches
2003 - 2005


Statement for “Power on the Earth”
January, 2005

"Power on the Earth" is the first piece in the series for the Exhibition "In This Life". In this painting, I tried to express more current themes including political issues--observations on what I see in the world today.

The American flag (as well as flags from other countries) evoke powerful emotions. I was somewhat uncomfortable using such strong imagery, and since it contains connotations of power, negative impressions are also conveyed. It is a bit difficult to see from the image on the web site, but when you inspect the background of the figure closer, you can see a tree, which extends upwards towards the American flag. As it gets closer to the flag, the branches on the tree turn barren almost as if the tree has rotted and died. The tree branches can be seen through the flag, which gives the appearance that the flag has developed vericose veins or cracks, as it has grown old and decrepit. What was once apparently strong and vital has grown fragile. Or perhaps this is the transition from the success of industrialization to our post-modern culture. Is this the future of those that hold power? The green bushy tree contrasts with the dead tree, and symbolizes the transition from life to death. The young, strong person in front brims with confidence at the success of his labor, not realizing that his power is withering away. Many newspaper articles on power and corruption are embedded into the surface and can be seen showing through cracks in the flag and background.

I am not American, but I have been living in the U.S. for over 10 years now. When traveling outside of the U.S., one can obtain news through the media, which is not readily presented in the mainstream media in the U.S. It is a chance to hear news from a different angle or point of view—some good and others bad. These days, there are many negative things that are whispered in the world about the U.S., a lot stemming from our political actions overseas. For my part, I honestly have reservations about some of the actions of the U.S. as one of the countries of the world. Viewing the current world situation, I feel sad and concerned about our future. At the same time, many of our actions are incredibility positive and stem from the power and vitality of this country. However, no one can deny the power that the U.S. holds and its influence on the world. Regardless of the condition of the economy and deficit, the U.S. has tremendous influence on the world in both positive and negative ways. But where will this power lead us? The reality of our power and the way we use it makes me concerned about the future of our world. The image of "Power on the Earth I" is an investigation into the conflict that power and success generate with a bit of politics.

Kumiko S. McKee