I've thought long and hard about how to express my feeling over the past week. I teach in a very rural high school with over 75% of my students being immigrants and refugees. They are terrified and anxious. My former students are also worried.
I grew up and graduated from the school where I teach. I've seen my community go from one of the whitest places in America to one of the most diverse. It's been a huge transition thanks to the establishment of an international pork processing plant.
I always dreamt of going to exotic places and working with diverse people across the globe. I never dreamt they would come to me. I am amazed everyday by the strength, ambition and courage of my students - many are our top kids, go on to college and do exceptional things despite language and cultural barriers.
Since the election I've seen first hand harassment and bullying of my minority students. I've been troubled to learn that some of these amazing people have had their families threatened in our small town. I hurt for them. I love them. They are my kids and they impress me daily.
I have embraced the safety pin movement which first started in England after Brexit when minorities started getting the same treatment. I knew I wanted to express myself through the beautiful simplicity of the safety pin. So I set about selecting symbols of the people I want to protect and support. This is my result.
My watercolor features a group of charms and beads. All these objects hold significance for me. I chose a heart shaped bead strung with the colors of the LGBT community. I added a tiny clock at the bottom of the string with the time deliberately set to my husband's birthday, 10/10. I want to say that it's time to accept that love is love.
The next string starts with a globe bead and a charm of the female symbol. I am blessed to live and work where I do but I still see mistreatment and inequity for women at home and around the world. Women's rights continue to be sought and protected and as the mother of three incredible daughters and grandmother of four amazing granddaughters, I believe women's rights are precarious.
Next I selected a turquoise ribbon holding two feathers. I live in an area of the country rich with Native American traditions and people. I believe indigenous people are still under attack and discriminated against.
The next strand has four earth colored beads holding a Monarch butterfly charm and a tiny bell. As I said earlier, my students come from all over the earth. The Monarch butterfly survives by migration and has come to symbolize migrants and refugees. I added the tiny bell because I think we need to make more noise and stand up for these people who are simply trying to build a better life for themselves and their children.
I struggled with how to represent religion and faith. I thought about creating a whole trail of religious symbols but decided to simply use the universal word "Faith." I am a believer and have a strong faith but I also have dear friends and students who are devoted to different faiths. I added the tiny peace symbol at the end of this strand because so much hate and destruction has come from differing faiths and I pray for peace daily.
Finally I created a tiny key for kindness. It's such a simple expression but when everything is boiled down I think kindness pretty much covers it all.
I posted this painting on my other social media and immediately was asked to make prints and cards available. I was humbled that others were moved by my artwork. So prints and blank greeting cards of this painting are available for purchase at My online, watercolor Etsy Shop