Seeking Freedom in Past and Present: NKU Freedom Studies Student Artists

6. Uncertain Sanctuary

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Uncertain Sanctuary

Carola Bell

2001, monotype print (photo)

For those on the run–from brutality, slavery, tyranny, oppression–no matter what the circumstance, sometimes the clarity of what they are running from is overshadowed by the uncertainty of what they are running to. This sense of uncertainty is represented within the abstracted landscape of this print.

A shadowed, fence–like band across the foreground of the scene characterizes the immediate obstacles that must be overcome to reach freedom, not the least of which is the courage to climb the “fence” itself. The middle–ground appears to be open space, but a closer look reveals that is not as open or as easy to cross as it seems. The space is a chaotic array of textures and minute spots of color. These textures and colors represent invisible obstacles yet to come. It is unclear whether this is solid ground or an illusion capable of sinking the body and the spirit. In the distance, a dense line of trees at the edge of a forest awaits. Its true nature is shrouded in darkness. Is it a shelter or entrapment?

Facing uncertainty is as much a part of the pursuit of freedom as the decision to run. Slaves and fugitives from oppression everywhere have to come to terms with it. Freedom is an unfamiliar world that grows into powerful feelings for an unknown destination. It all begins by climbing a fence, being exposed to open spaces, and walking into an uncertain sanctuary, eyes wide open.

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