Give me your tired, your poor
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

To some Americans, the words of Emma Lazarus (in 1883) written at the base of the Statue of Liberty are our national credo. Others say it’s our national curse. What do you think? Credo? Curse? Neither?

When we don’t want to group certain people into a negative category, why do we subsequently put another group into a similar unfair category without even realizing it? What happens when our different ideas of justice clashes? Do we develop a hatred for one religion when we are fighting for the persecution and injustices of another religion or group of people? Do we even realize that we do this involuntarily and subconsciously? What is the meaning of liberty and justice for all? What is the price we pay both in our communities and within our own personal beliefs?

In this Liberty art series, I have made beautiful textures and colors and contrasted it with falling, crouching, flying, sleeping, tired, tempest tossed, homeless, and vulnerable bodies. Washed ashore or cast into the ocean, huddled or yearning to breathe free… again, or for the first time. These blue foreign bodies, yearn to lift their lamps beside their own golden thresholds.

Siona Benjamin 2018