14 Mar - 8 Apr 2007


Artist Statement, 2007

Nothing is more pure than the anguish of a child. Pictures of children crying capture raw emotion: sputtering rage and profound loss. In many ways we’ve become desensitized to disturbing images. But the honesty of a child’s feelings is undeniable and it draws you in to the photograph. Perhaps because kids experience the kind of powerful emotions that we, as adults, have suppressed in ourselves.

The children I photographed were not harmed in any way. And, as a mother, I am quite aware of how easily toddlers can cry. Storms of grief sweep across their features without warning; a joyful smile can dissolve into a grimace of despair. The first little boy I shot, Liam, suddenly became hysterically upset. It reminded me of helplessness and anger I feel about our current political and social situation. It made me think of my outrage at our false reasons for going to war in Iraq and the scandalous way in which the conflict was sold to theAmerican people. I thought of George W. Bush, then just sworn into his second term in office, and I decided to call the image “Four More Years”.

As any new parent will tell you, the future suddenly becomes a very serious concern. As ecstatic as I was at the birth of my daughter, I felt selfish bringing her, and later my son into our screwed-up world. I seemed to become a mother at exactly the moment things went awry. Of course, human beings have always been greedy, violent and dishonest. But the rise of the Christian right as a political force in this country has made the situation dire. The most dangerous fundamentalists aren’t just waging war in Iraq; they’re attacking evolution, blocking medical research and ignoring the environment.

It’s as if they believe the apocalyptic End Time is near, therefore protecting the earth and the future of our children is futile.† As a parent I have to reckon with the knowledge that our children will suffer for the mistakes our government is making. Their pain is a precursor of what is to come.

Jill Greenberg


† See http://tinyurl.com/9ywe