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TitleHe Can't BreatheDesigned bySharon O'NeillHooked bySharon O'NeillDimensions18.5" x 18"Materialswool on linenCuts4, 6Share

Activism can come in many forms.

How often do we have to hear people of color say, “I can’t breathe” as they are dying at the hands of an arresting officer while as a nation we watch. I woke with this image on my mind and felt compelled to draw and hook it. Always when I work on a piece, I hold with intention the image and message of the art I am working on.

This was a hard one.

Wondering if I have a “right” to make a piece of art like this, being white and a white mom of sons, I have seen and recognized our privilege. When my sons, while in their teen and early adult years, made mistakes in public, I never had to worry about whether or not their lives were at risk at the hands of another.

When I was worried that protests and violence broke out in front of my son’s Brooklyn apartment and was scared,I realized that mothers of color live with fear for their children every day.

As social media posts and news outlets started to question the “kind of man” George Floyd was, I realize that all I need to know was that he was not resisting arrest and that the police officer and those who looked on did not have cause or right to be accuser, judge, jury and executioner – all in under 9 minutes.

As protests and riots occurred, I reflected on the difference between the two and also knowing that I will never know the anger that comes from generations of racial biased toward me and my family.

As hatred and violence against police occurred, I reflected on all of the good and hardworking police officers and other public servants that I know and love and I know that they are hurting too.

These are just a few of the intentions that I have held over the last few weeks as I’ve worked on this piece.

I invite discussion – not judgement and harsh words. If you disagree with me, get in touch and let’s talk. Somehow, we have to span the great divide in our country before we destroy ourselves.

About the Artist:

While I have been a creator my entire life, I became a fiber artist in the mid-80’s when I was in college studying fine art and psychology/sociology on my path to becoming an art therapist.  Weaving and fiber sculpture were my primary means of art expression until around 1998 when I took a rug hooking class in Fairfax, Vermont.  Already a weaver and rug maker, I was looking for something that combined my love of fiber with my other talents in drawing and design.  It was also attractive that the classes were paired with wine, cheese and friendship.  I was instantly “hooked!”

While I have only been a member of the Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild since 2015, I am a long time attendee of the amazing rug hooking shows curated by the Guild. In January of 2019, I stepped up to be the Program Chair. Since joining the Guild and then the Board I have enjoyed meeting amazing artists who have become inspiration for my artwork and friends in my heart.

I design almost all of my own rugs. Images come to me from friendships, dreams, stories, nature and current events. Most of my designs tell personal stories. I make detailed sketches and take a long time choosing my color palette before putting design onto my linen. While my planning is detailed, I leave the design on linen in a much simpler format leaving me flexibility to design as I hook. I also like to use a variety of fabrics and multi-media adornments in my work.