“We are still searching for our KEY to full freedom in the U.S. which continues to be a thorny existence. Do your work – know your history and build a strong foundation.”#Larueshandinclay #blackwomanceramicist #afriwarebooks #mahoganygalley #peopleofcolorpeopleofclay #thecolornetwork #africanamericanmuseums #blackartinamericamatters #blacksculptorsmatters #afrolatinaartist #chicagoartist #ceramicartistofinstagram #stonewareceramics
—Christine “Liz” Larue
I think how history either repeats itself or follows a constant theme. Here we are with women’s rights to their own health having been rolled back. It is now at the point where women living in Republican states, if they are at any point in their pregnancy, something can go wrong as it happens in Nature. Miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, something is genetically wrong, or something goes amiss developmentally. Now, these women’s lives are in danger because doctors will not want to treat them for fear they will be arrested. We will have to have a lot of women die before folks wake up. Women risk sepsis if something goes wrong in pregnancy, and to restore their health; they must have a D&C to clear out tissues to prevent infection. This is part of women’s healthcare.
At the beginning of my social work career, I did home studies for families wanting to adopt or become foster parents. I have probably done easily about 400+ of these. It entails going into a family’s history, parenting and experience, and health issues. What I found surprising as a young social worker was the large number of women who had miscarriages. It didn’t matter what race or ethnic group these women were. I always heard of something that went amiss, and the woman’s body responded naturally to reject something wrong: development, genetics or some accident. I remember one woman who had a severe asthma attack and, as a result, miscarried…of course, her body got so stressed that, most likely, the body could not support the tenuous pregnancy. The body does that in trying to keep stabilized…it keeps what is absolutely necessary. The same thing happens in grief work. The body gets so stressed that it doesn’t support what is deemed unnecessary functions – which is why one may lose hair and lose weight as the body tries to stabilize itself.
The second thing is the denial of the history of African Americans and Latino Americans in books to the point some towns have closed down their public libraries. This means a Black or Latino child will sit in a teacher’s classroom and will be presented a world where their presence is completely denied. Their voices will be silenced. How will that play out? When a teacher gives an assignment about family history, will only the white children be allowed to read their histories out loud in class? If a Black kid asks a question about what happened to George Floyd, Sandra Bland, or Ahmaud Arbery, will they be sent to the principal’s office to be suspended for bringing up a forbidden subject? Will Obama’s history as our first African American president and how he came to the office be Xed out in our history books? How can you talk about a subject like Obama without mentioning the extraordinary factors around his existence?
If a kid goes to see the movie “Till” about Emmett Till’s lynching and mentions it in class, will that kid be suspended for bringing up that subject? Or will a Native American girl be suspended for telling the Trail of Tears history from her family’s history?
I ask these questions because, in 4th grade, I wrote a composition on my great-grandfather for an assignment. He was a Cherokee and African American cowboy. He raised horses and sold his horses to President Roosevelt and rode with Roosevelt’s Rough Riders in the Spanish Civil War. I was almost suspended because my Black teacher and the white principal told me there was no such thing as Black cowboys. I was stunned as my grandfather had just taken me to a rodeo featuring Black cowboys that previous summer. Thank goodness I had a mother who spoke our truth to the school.
So I know the fear of being unable to speak about one’s history. I know the fear of women who, through standard healthcare, run into miscarriages and genetic abnormalities during pregnancies and need proper healthcare. Yet, with the return of these 1950s way of Republican thinking, we are binding up important aspects of our society and history in silence.
My sculpture represents that history and ignorant backward movement reclaiming space in our lives. I have trepidation about this and the lives this conservative movement will affect negatively for generations. What’s next? Jim Crow? Slavery? Concentration camps for people who speak out for diversity? Scary times right now.
Christine “Liz” LaRue is a clay artist and illustrationist. She is known for her intricately textured figurative sculptures and emotionally illustrative drawings. Chicago born though also raised in Utah and Idaho, Ms. LaRue is of Creole/Cuban descent. Her art has been influenced by her Afro-Latino heritage. Ms. LaRue’s interests has been in Pre-Columbian art of the Olmec, Maya of Mexico, Nazca and Moche face pots of Peru. This also includes the bronze sculptures of the Ife of Nigeria, and Tā Moko tattoo art of the Maōri.
Ms. LaRue got hooked on ceramics at the age of 10 at the Hull House Art and Music Camp. She earned a B.A. in Latin American Studies with a Ceramics Minor from the University of Denver. She has a Master’s degree in clinical social work specializing in multi-cultural families. Though she lived briefly in Mexico pursuing ceramic art studies, she brought the knowledge back to Chicago to teach wheel throwing and handbuilding a various ceramic studios in Chicago. Ms. LaRue’s art work spotlights the beauty of the African American portraiture so ignored in American mainstream society.
Ms. LaRue has shown at various venues in Chicago including; Black Creativity Juried Art Exhibition at the Museum of Science & Industry, winning best in ceramics 2015, 2016, 2017, Hyde Park Art Center, The Cliff Dweller Club, DuSable Museum and UIC 5th Floor Gallery. She has numerous works in private collections.