We just finished this triptych that was commissioned by Stanford’s Institute for Diversity in the Arts (IDA) for “Current Preoccupations (Palestine, Oakland, and Arizona)“, one of their Occupy Art Classes.  The triptych was a collaboration between Mark Gonzales and Dignidad Rebelde, the collaboration began with a conversation about the issues people are facing in these three places and from this Mark wrote a poem (which you can read below) which was then used as the inspiration for our piece.

PS. This piece wouldn’t be possible without all the photos we used that came from these places and photographers in Arizona and Palestine…thanks Chandra Narcia, Diane Ovalle and Mizue Azeki (and of course Melanie’s from Oakland).

Too Short blasts heavy bass that hits heart like fist
on a sunny Oakland afternoon
amber soul children dress in black skin
& laugh from strollers at
conversations only they can understand.
When my lover & I have child
WE will smile at the way
infant hair laughs at gravity
all midnight colors & dancing curls.

“Baby boy, mija, bneya, I love you
who will learn to walk
go on little one
stretch them legs
Kanye & Jay’s life cray,
your life crayola”

I wonder the spaces you’ll wander
as you take your
First Steps.
she wanders
across dreams and deserts
sandboxes Arizona attempted to turn prison
with color coded passports.
The state that once held the US record
for numbers of lynching has made learning
about my father’s mother illegal.
Odd world that sets up barricades between children &
their grandparents’ grave.
Yet she we still be First Nations
mujer rocking leather sewed moccasins  with sharkskin & pearl toes.

Turquoise earrings accent the diamond shapes
she buzzed into the left side of her hair.
She carries a bouquet of ancestors
and lays a flower at each of the Four Corners reservations.
She walks.
On family day they ride to town
a station wagon full of faces in dual grins
a rusted bent fender & Freddy fender
blanket sound across
velvet carpet upholstery
Nirvana in speakers
sacred sack
She laughs
as if was her
First Breath.

amidst oud
burnt like sage down the concrete
alleyway of Nablus.
Hebron settlers built towers of babel
On top garden of Eden
littering puss and urine
on dreams.
The stench of supremacy is putrid
amid a clean shaven face with soul as frigidly pale as their skin.

Dear young son still unborn
how old will you be when they
First Tell
you freeze?
The age of your
First Funeral
too soon?

In Oaklandia, Arizona. Palestine
we drive between future & freeway intersections
arriving from roads
where yellow dashed traffic lines are
not street dividers but suggestions.
Where the streets have no names
only markets
where they attempted to erase our tongues so we will
forget that we were here
ask the pilgrims about anchor babies
and First Steps
First Nations –
who are reLearning to walk
to wherever our dreams take us
and back home again.

My future son
I promise this is not the world you will inherit.

My future daughter
when you come through the birth canal,
your tongue will be tattooed genetic memory
with our people’s song
like First Words:
Let us live.
Let us love.
Let us be.

– Mark Gonzales

Visit Mark’s website here:www.wagebeauty.com