Sunday, March 27, 2011

Statement by Amanda Fickett at early morning moment of reflection


My name is Amanda Fickett and I am one of the three organizers of the (3/25) early morning moment of reflection.  My father used to be the chief Union negotiator for IBEW and my grandfather was famed South Portland City Councilman Robert Fickett Jr. who served on the council for nearly 30 years.  This mural, its context and location, mean a lot to me and my family.  

Hello, my name is Amanda Fickett and I am a senior student of Philosophy at the University of Southern Maine. I am the Lorax, I speak for the art.

American Pragmatist, John Dewey, is responsible for the following two passages. The first, one of his most well known statements, is this: “the most pervasive fallacy of philosophic thinking goes back to neglect of context.” That is, when we neglect the circumstances, structures, buildings, locations, and history which come together to cause an event, a creation-- this is where we, as a civilization, make our greatest and most grievous errors. Dewey also said the following: “When artistic objects are separated from both conditions of origin and operation in experience, a wall is built around them that renders almost opaque their general significance.” Regardless of where our governor would send them, removing these panels from the Department of Labor would be, in a sense, to wall them up. And in such an act of erasure, we would be ignoring two of their vitally important aspects: the historical significance of the struggle and triumph these panels relate, as well as their inherent connection to democracy and labor relations in Maine.

The latter of these two items of neglect also allows us to flip the mural’s dependency around. Not only do the panels depend upon the department of labor to contextualize them, the Department of Labor exists because of the context they depict!—this specific history is why we have a Department of Labor at all!

I’d like to finish my statement with another brief passage from John Dewey and then read from a letter written by my good friend, fellow artist, and fellow Mainer, Jeb Knight who could not attend today but has assured me that he is here in spirit.

Dewey said: “Art celebrates with peculiar intensity the moments in which the past reinforces the present”-- something I think could not be more relevant. Thank you, Mr. Dewey, wherever you are.

Jeb says: "As an artist, I appreciate the power of images. As a Mainer, I know the meaning of hard work. As Americans, we unite behind thirteen stripes and fifty stars not because it makes a flag but because it represents us--the blood our grandfathers shed, the dreams of our children yet born.

By ordering this mural removed, Governor LePage has all but declared that the memory of the men who toiled in the mills and of the women who broke their backs in potato fields should be plowed away.

Inherent in our state motto is an obligation to hard work, calloused hands and sweaty brows--values that have been passed down through generations of Mainers, some depicted here. One cannot lead from the back of the pack, and tactics that limit free expression and censor our past are not only from the rear-guard, they do no service to those who suffered nor to those who could yet suffer if this history is ignored.

-Jeb Neal Knight

Thank you.


Joan Braun said...

Beautifully said, Amanda! And John Dewey is so right: “...the most pervasive fallacy of philosophic thinking goes back to neglect of context.” Context is everything and must always be considered and honored, in art and in human actions and relations as well. Thanks so much for writing this

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