Writing Off the Walls 2022

Creativity in the age of CoVID

Brought to you by Studio Theater in Exile & Hudson Valley MOCA

I am the Son of an Immigrant - Tootsie Warhol

Based on Moris' Painting, El Dueno de Todo, 2020

My father fled religious persecution in Baghdad to come to this country at age ten in 1950. MORIS is an

artist born and working in Mexico, and his work, “El Due o de Todo” (2020) resonates so strongly with

me because it uses collage and mixed media to encompass the spirit of migration and diaspora.

Hudson Valley Moca is just over an hour’s drive north of the Statue of Liberty, one of the most lasting

symbols of America and of New York in particular. I am the son of an immigrant. The Statue of Liberty

and it’s renowned poem by Emma Lazarus which reads “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled

masses yearning to breathe free,” exudes hope to new arrivals from other countries who have endured

a long and hard and treacherous journey to come to a new but strange land that they will make their

home.

Immigration is uniquely fundamental to the story of America. Combined with the important and lasting

heritage of our Native Americans, immigrants have woven their distinct cultures into the vibrant mosaic

that is America today, and MORIS’s work very much embodies this diverse and strong cultural mosaic.

I am the son of an immigrant.

Donald Trump launched his campaign in 2015 and uttered his most infamous attack on immigrants:

“They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” These words were hurtful to me personally

and entirely unamerican. When I met with Donald Trump in 2017 to discuss civil rights in my prior

career as an attorney, I was again confronted with the harsh reality of our country’s new supreme leader

in a very personal and direct way. This meeting inspired me to develop a practice of art and activism and

to use art to convey, among other messages, the importance of immigration and inclusiveness in our nation’s

history and future; and certainly MORIS’s “El Due o de Todo” (2020) embodies this urgent message

as well.

I am the son of an immigrant.

Layering Depths - Inez Andrucyk

Based on Moris' Painting, El Dueno de Todo, 2020

Layering depths

The complexity

Of human experience

De then Re composing

Insistently exposing

Beliefs, Concepts, illusions

found, repeated, transformed,

assumed,

trusted,

lost,

feared

contradicted.

Scratching out pain, sorrow.

Misunderstandings.

From the hubris

Pluck out hairs,

Flag gagged justice.

Take them all…………

surviving

Fingers, paper, enamel,

personal materials

Insistently reordering,

Undoing, redoing

intermittently

explosive and comforting

wild then quiet.

The canvas heart beats.

Yelepa - Michael Seri

Based on Moris' Painting, El Dueno de Todo, 2020

They arrive refugees in back of a ponga.

Tiffany housewife, criminal ghostly sailor, voodoo priestess

                       Shipwrecked

Where the coconut and banana grow.

Where the swagger of green palm and yellow bamboo line the distant cove.

They step unto the playa, tortoises climbing from their shells.

                        To

Bronze themselves

Shed their skins.

Peel themselves, of themselves

                         Drown themselves.

Rid themselves, of themselves

                           Day after day

Watch their bodies float away on the back of the ebbing wave.

                            Feel the pulse

                            Share their secrets

                            Cleanse themselves, of themselves

                             In the suds of the delicate foam

                             Footprints disappear

                             Bury their lives in the sand

They come back, day after day

                             Sip on Margaritas

                             Hear the pie woman say “Tu quiere una pastel de banana.”

                             Sit on a spout of a humpback whale

                             Speak Spanish with the dolphin

                             Walk the pace of the mule

                              Paint the landscape with themselves

                              Climb the manure trails

                               Follow the sign “a la cascada.”

                               Purge themselves

                               Baptize themselves, of themselves

                               Make friends with the scorpions

                               Hitch a ride with a butterfly to a Mexican graveyard.

                               Ride the back of a crab

                               Discuss the political essays of Octavio Paz.

                               Attend the Quinceanera

                               Reggae down at the disco nights.

                               Set a bonfire in their hearts

                               Watch thoughts flow down the mouth of the lagoon

                                Lay naked under the dry palms of their palapa

                                Here the indigenous cries

                                of themselves

                                Awaken each morning to island dreams

                                Falling In love

                               With themselves

                               With each other

                               With

                               Yelepa

As Good As New - Lorraine Currelley

Based on Moris' Painting, El Dueno de Todo, 2020

We packed up everything we owned. Precious and sacred rags. Mama’s re-imagined flour sacks, became

precious silks and linens in our longing and hopeful eyes. Battled shoes stuffed with cardboard, missing

soles but never their souls. Patched pants, shirts, dresses, skirts and blouses, cast offs from all the Mr.

& Mrs. Whites our tortured lives knew. Cargo intended for trash cans. Cold harsh cruel voices, shouting

at overworked and underpaid employees. “Mabel , you want any of this stuff before it’s thrown in the

trash? You can fix it up as good as new.”

Away from the glares of Mr. & Mrs. Whites eyes and ears we cursed their ignorance in favor of hard

earned coins. Coins when added together would lead us out of Jim Crow and to freedom. No more

bodies swinging from the poplar trees, rapes hidden from our men folk, bombed churches, mis-education,

Wall Streets, Emmett Tills, and doctorate mops on office floors. Our history and herstory infused

with dreams, audacious hope and the elegant words of brilliant author Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth

of Other Suns. Understanding all too well the kindred strokes of comrade Morris bleeding passionately

onto canvass. Like Morris we bring pieces of our lives. Aged pictures passed down, a dress, pair of shoes,

grandfather’s sacred letter and 102 year old Aunt Hattie telling us to wash our panties before going to

bed at night, so that we would have fresh ones to wear the next day.

Everyone spoke about freedom and opportunity up north. Family members sent word

of apartments, jobs and education. When freedom day finally arrived there was great excitement. It

appeared as though the entire Black population just up and left. We did our best not to look over our

shoulders, knowing we would miss the land that struggled to produce food for us. The land we prayed

to and loved. The land where we rested our ancestors. The land we hoped oneday our children would

return to when the evils of the White death we suffered no longer existed. Stories followed us of all

the Mrs. Whites lamenting and wondering how they were going to find colored girls to do their work.

Couldn’t stop talking about how their entire lives were thrown into turmoil. Mama said, “You don’t miss

your water until the well runs dry.”

Seems like Black folks have always been looking for home. Escaping plantations looking for our people.

Children snatched from our wombs and sold. Juneteenth celebrated two and a half years after emancipation.

Greedy brutal enslavers angered by the news hoping to suck the last of our remaining breath

from our bodies. Their kin fight for voter suppression and keeping the truth of their brutality out of

schools. While our resilient descendants still fight for what remains “Freedom: A Failed Promise.”

Feel free to navigate through the tabs to hear the recordings/poems of I am the Son of an Immigrant, Lyering Depth, Yelpa, and As Good as New. All of these recordings/poems are based Moris' painting, El dueno de todo, 2020.

Moris, El Dueno de todo, 2020
El dueno de todo, 2020

MORIS (Israel Meza Moreno)

Mexican, born 1978

El dueno de todo, 2020
Collage and transfer and enamel on canvas, mixed media and found objects
78.75 x 78.75 inches

Moris’ work addresses representation, social and subjective agency, urban issues, and marginal cultures often taken for granted in mainstream society. Moris grew up and lives and works in a Cartel-run area outside Mexico City. The issues he researches are part of his daily life; the street and social space are his laboratory. Understanding the diverse social codes of the urban underclass and underworld, their strategies for survival, and informal use of aesthetics in order to make daily life more humane and dignified are the driving ethos for his work.

His recent work echos the phenomenology of the migrant, the survival tools in the countries, on the long journey to the USA. Always looking north, Latin Americans compose a great unstoppable caravan transforming each place on the way towards to the US.

Under the idealization that the north has more resources and better payments, migrants
try to obtain the benefits that a government as the US may offer. There is an ongoing tension between the government and the caravan seeking opportunities and resources during their stay or possible permanent residence.

His work is part of many important public and private collections worldwide including the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York City, Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA), Los Angeles, La Colección Jumex, Mexico City, and FEMSA Collection, Monterrey Mexico. Major exhibitions include “Mi casa es tu casa”, Los Angeles Nomadic Division (LAND), MOCA Geffen Contemporary, Los Angeles, CA.; “Un animal pierde la vida porque otro tiene hambre (An animal dies because another is hungry)”, Museo Experimental El Eco, Mexico City, Mexico and has been a representative at the 9th Havana Biennale, Havana, Cuba and the 30th São Paulo Biennial, São Paulo, Brazil in 2012.

Studio Theater in Exile

“Theatre takes place all the time wherever one is, and art simply facilitates persuading us this is the case”

- John Cage