What is the social role of art in society? Certainly, it records history, offers an innovative way of seeing, and gives tangible form to the unknown and to human feeling. Art can also may people aware of human rights abuses, serve as a witness to social issues, such as poverty, domestic violence, and racism, preserve freedom, and help survivor obtain justice. For many years now, human rights and social justice has guided much of my work on behalf of human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch; Physicans for Human Rights; International Campaign to Ban Land Mines; and Human Rights Center, School of Law, University of California Berkeley.
One of my sculpture series deals with “refuge” and the need for shelter and protection. Every day we are bombarded with disturbing images of displaced people fleeing or driven from their homes because of ethnic cleansing, poverty, and climate change. But what does “refuge” mean? Refugefrom whom,and from what? If a haven is found, is it truly safe and can it last? Can lives be rebuilt? This body of sculpture and paintings explores the meanings – from the ideal to the reality – inherent in the idea of “refuge,” not only for human beings but wildlife as well, and begins to imagine a new world, perhaps even an imaginary one, without barriers or borders.