I grew up in Israel on stories of the Holocausts. From a very young age I understood, in principle, that a normal, pleasant life can turn upside down in an instant, and that seemingly ordinary—even cultured—people can transform into monsters with a blink of an eye. But I was lucky enough to live a sheltered, relatively safe life, and for a very long time never experienced that thin divide first hand.
Unfortunately, the longer I live, the more I look around, the deeper I get into world affairs, the more I see it. The chasm between a normal life and utter chaos. The schism between being a good human and morphing into something else. That divide, that line, is thinner than we think. It’s closer than any of us would like to believe. So close, in fact, that it’s right outside our doors, right inside each and every one of us.
The last few years have made that clear, in small things and big. The people in our communities surprised us. The mask wars showed how every small, daily act can become a social statement. The arguments over vaccines clearly displayed how mundane decisions are actually a choice. A choice between caring for our communities and being concerned only with our own, selfish interests. Our world is changing around us, too. We recently saw countries that were sane and normal collapse into disarray in a matter of days. And here in the USA, the previous administration has brought out ugliness of a magnitude many of us didn’t even realize existed. The pandemic only made things worse.
We are all closer to that rift than we would like to think. Our normal, safe, happy lives can topple in an instant. We ourselves, under certain circumstances, can become something we never believed we could. Living in an orderly, well-functioning place is not something we can take for granted. Being a good, moral human being, it seems, is not a given. Both are something we need to strive for, work on, each and every moment, with decisions big and small.
Tread Carefully, the Art Quilt
This textile collage, like many others recently, popped into my mind as a complete picture. All I had to do was bring it about. Seeing as it was another installment in a new, emerging series, I stuck to the color palette of gray, off-white and red, and to the 16″ x 20″ format.
I chose to portray the fissure we might all plunge into in different shades of dark gray. I further stressed the danger by inserting sharp angles, ones that will really hurt if you fall on them.
To stress the difference, I chose to paint the safe, moral alternative in bright off white, dotted with circular, harmonious, feel-good shapes. Circles of life.
In between that which is sane and that which isn’t, that which is right and that which is not, I inserted a red, narrow path; a thin line.
Once again I posed for a picture, me as a representative of us all. And there it was : Tread Carefully, an artwork about daily choices, about the thin line we all walk with every little decision we make. Because it is relatively easy to do the right thing when the times are good, and a lot more complex to do so in times of turmoil. Sadly, we now live in perilous times, and so we can’t afford to become lax. Tread carefully we must.