liberty

None of us are Free if some of us are In Chains

2016Chains

For the last three years, I have worked with organizations in my community to raise awareness of human trafficking, with the goal of rescuing and rehabilitating victims. Each year, my inspiration comes from a different source. This year, I have been swamped with commissions and did not think I would have time to create a painting for the upcoming auction. 

One night, while working in the studio, I heard Solomon Burke’s iconic song come across my tablet, and I had a sudden flash of inspiration. Because of the short time frame, I really had to work hard to get this painting set up and completed in time for The Night of Awareness

None of us are Free if some of us are In Chains

12″ x 48″

acrylic on canvas

The concepts of individual liberty and human rights are inherent in both my art and the foundations of the modern abolitionist movement. The term freedom is not just an ideological construct; it is a basic human right. Freedom is the natural state of all human beings throughout the world, whether recognized by their governments or not. 

Freedom cannot be infringed upon by any society or individual seeking the classifications of just or civilized. Daily, freedom is denied to individuals both openly and covertly, across the globe. We may turn a blind eye here in America, but that does not make the violation go away. It has been said that allowing a crime to go unpunished is itself complicity in the crime. 

Unknown or ignored by most people, acts of slavery are committed on a daily basis without any redress for the victims. For the last two years, I have endeavored to to use my art as a means to address this issue. 

A Moral Outrage

Moral Outrage

Part 1 of 2: The Crime

Stand Up

Part 2 of 2: The Rescue

Lifted up on Golden Wings

completed2015

From a moral perspective, we cannot turn a blind eye to the crime of human trafficking. Whether we are effected as individuals or not, whether there is a measurable public health crisis or not, we must eradicate human slavery practices wherever they exist. This is a true social justice issue for which everyone should feel compelled to raise awareness and eliminate its practice. 

Human slavery is quite literally a stain on the very soul and fabric of our nation. Let’s come together as Americans and see to our own house, with open eyes, focused effort, and human compassion.

Stand up and be counted among the just.

#EndHumanSlaveryInOurTime

Daily Drawing 2.10.2016: Angel Study

This drawing was the initial study for a large scale angel painting that I created to help raise money to fight human trafficking. My friend Katie was gracious enough to pose for the reference photos for this project.

The painting was purchased by a good friend, and consequently, has become one of my few donated paintings to remain where I can enjoy it. Just before Christmas, it survived a large fire and I had the opportunity to restore it for its owner. It is now on loan for my booth at Don Byram Art and Antiques hosted by the Jackson County Arts Council. If you live in the area, please stop by and check it out in person.

 

DBA Booth

 

 

Daily Drawings Series

In 2016, I have set myself the goal of working full time on my art. One of the ways I plan to do this is to establish a daily drawing schedule.

 

So many times, when I go into my studio to work, I find myself wandering around fiddling with stuff until I get focused. As one would expect from an artist, my studio is crammed to the gills with stuff – piles of notes and images, ongoing projects, supplies, piles of projects that I need to get started on, reference materials… in general, chaos. Though all of these items need to find a home instead of cluttering up the place, they do nothing to add to my creative process directly.

It is my hope that redirecting this energy into a daily drawing will have several benefits for my growth as an artist. At the very least, it will force me to spend time drawing; which I enjoy a great deal. In addition, it gets me on here, posting regularly and interacting with (and hopefully growing) my audience.

Because my fine art is very contemporary in style and typically politically motivated, I think this will be a good way to engage people on the meaning of that work. The daily Drawings give a foundational background to my skills as an artist and provide interest for those not particularly committed to supporting ideological art. They also give my viewers an idea of the process behind the more complex fine art pieces. Every painting begins with some kind of sketch, either in one of my many art journals, or in a sketchbook – all organized separately on themes with notes and references. Yes, I’m a little compulsive.

 

I also find that I just need time to think before I start working. A great deal of thought and research goes into every painting, both before I begin and throughout the creative process. I need to get into my own head before I start painting. I also need to master the subject matter so that references become less important and a personal style develops. I feel that this makes the work stronger and more compelling to the viewer.

Now that I have the crow concept firmly established, I am moving on to birds of prey and songbirds. Beginning now, I will be posting one drawing per day from the series. On days when it is not possible for me to work on a drawing, I will pull from my art journals and sketchbooks to share the drawings behind completed paintings or post mixed media projects that include drawing.

 

Eventually, I hope to have enough drawings to offer them for sale online and at festival shows. To anyone reading this, please take the time to share and stop back in when you can to see what is new. Thanks in advance for your support and please leave feedback!

Frances

Handcrafted for the Holidays

Please join me this weekend for the annual Christmas Market at the Quinlan Visual Arts Center in Gainesville. I will be one of the art vendors with small patriotic art, primitives and folk pieces, hand-made Christmas cards and ornaments, and painted boxes and trunks. 

Handcrafted

I Hold On

**SOLD**
This small painting is the first in a series designed to illustrate and iconify the Liberty Bell. I am currently developing a group of non-political work to promote patriotism and American pride.

This painting incorporates lyrics from the Dierks Bentley song, I Hold On.

View more of my patriotic art on my Libertas Americana page.

Frances Byrd is the National Director of Liberatchik.com, and a contributing writer at Western Free Press and FreedomWorks. Her articles and interviews have been published at Blog Bytes , Big Hollywood, and WND . Mrs. Byrd’s conceptual art and writing can be viewed at MachinePolitick.

Liberty Bell Tavern Sign

This primitive piece was created on salvaged wood. The style is very minimal, in order to allow the interesting patina of the wood to show through the painting. The Liberty Bell is an icon I am developing as part of my work at Libertas Americana, designed to illustrate patriotism and American pride.

Frances Byrd is the National Director of Liberatchik.com, and a contributing writer at Western Free Press and FreedomWorks. Her articles and interviews have been published at Blog Bytes , Big Hollywood, and WND . Mrs. Byrd’s conceptual art and writing can be viewed at MachinePolitick.

Silence of the Lambs

 

This drawing is in response to the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act. What a lovely title. It almost makes you feel like they’ve done something to make politicians less corrupt. What they’ve really done is tell you who you can support and how much you can give them. Don’t be fooled by the tripe about getting the money out of politics. The guys with big money on both sides can find ways around something as insignificant as a little law. They already have in most cases. All it really does is make it harder for the little guy who’s trying to follow the law to exercise his right to free speech and to vote.

Making politics more transparent and less driven by money is a load and we all know it. There’s not much else to say. We all know these guys are just trying to stay in office and keep anyone new off their turf. People who break the rules under one system will do so under any system. Legislation doesn’t change that, it just makes things harder for people who follow the law.

The imagery in this drawing illustrates the red tape of government regulation silencing the people. We do this to ourselves when we continue to vote the same people into office year after year because of party loyalty. This is just one more reason I support term limits and hope to see third party philosophies become more popular. Completed – 2007
Medium: Charcoal and ink on paper
Dimensions: 24w x 24h x 1d

Additional blogs regarding the First Amendment:

The Fairness Doctrine Looms on the Horizon

The Fairness Doctrine Looms on the Horizon, Pt.2

Frances Byrd is the National Director of Liberatchik.com, and a contributing writer at Western Free Press and FreedomWorks. Her articles and interviews have been published at Blog Bytes , Big Hollywood, and WND . Mrs. Byrd’s conceptual art and writing can be viewed at MachinePolitick.

How do we #TakeBackOurCulture?

 

Controlling the narrative is vital to influencing our culture, but what does this mean? Does it mean wresting the culture from the progressives’ cold, dead hands and never allowing open discussion again? No, it does not. It means demanding, fighting for, and creating an environment where everyone has the opportunity to express their views in the arts and entertainment industries.
Any attempt to completely silence opposing views will only lead to a severe pendulum-swing of public support for the opposition. It is also vital that we resist the urge to be petty and vindictive. This kind of expression may win you points with your peers, but it reflects poorly on our movement in the long term. We are not here to preach to the choir. That is not how minds are changed or how meaningful impact on society is made.

With that idea in mind, how do you get started? Every artist has a different style, different interests, and different preferences for medium. I would suggest that you figure out what you like to work with first. Next, hone your focus. If you try to tackle too many ideas in one piece of art, you will likely end up with something difficult to understand. Decide which ideas or issues are most important to you, then do the research. This is particularly important if you are creating conceptual art or a documentary. Facts are incontrovertible and invaluable. However, your biggest challenge here will come from developing interesting and impactful iconography and/or a story line that interests the viewer. Don’t slap a bunch of statistics and a graph together and call it done. You need to make it interesting as well as informative.

What is MachinePolitick?

My personal work has developed immensely over the last decade that I have been creating intentionally political art. Much of my initial inspiration was based on personal attacks heaped upon me by my peers in the art community who were offended by the idea that anyone creative could be pro-American or Libertarian-minded. I’m sure you have all had some kind of similar experience for expressing conservative views in your own fields. I have been called everything from ignorant to a Nazi. I have been told it would be nice if I just painted something pretty instead of all this angry political work – yet everywhere I go, I see support for progressive, anti-American art, music and movies. These experiences were the main impetus for me becoming a conceptual political artist.
A secondary motivation was the lack of initiative being taken on our side. We seem all fired up and ready to go now, but twelve years ago, openly conservative and libertarian political artists were virtually non-existent. There has always been a lot of noise on our side about how much progressive art sucks, how dishonest and detrimental modern art is, and the open hostility of the art community toward outsiders; but there was very little being done to change the culture publicly, and even less support for those who were taking this task on.
Not being of a mind to play along to get along, I started thinking about how I could inject a political message into my art without having it come across as trite or boring. It took a few years to figure out how to transform facts and research into iconography that would appeal to people. It took somewhat longer to learn how to make the work more subtle, so that it didn’t make people angry at first glance. Though I don’t care all that much whether or not people like may art or take anything away from it, I realize that minds won’t be changed if people walk away angry. I also started to realize that I was learning more about the things I oppose and find offensive by talking to people who had a progressive world-view. You can do research all day long, but it doesn’t help you understand how people feel or how they can justify oppression and redistribution. I realized, one day, that I can’t create in a vaccum, and that I was finding inspiration for art in conversations with people who were often quite hostile.

Making it Pretty

Give-Me-Liberty.jpg

One day my husband told me that he thought people need to be inspired by art, not always hit over the head with an idea. That was the turning point at which I realized I needed to find ways to be more subtle in the larger body of my work, as well as find ways to make art that was beautiful AND meaningful. This was the point at which I developed my Liberty icon and began repeating it in my work. I realized that, as angry as I was at being attacked and ridiculed, that I was missing the point of my own art and ideals about cultural change. So, this is the point at which we begin to discuss the how and why of my art.

Layering

Don't Cry for Me Amerika
Don’t Cry for Me Amerika

I have a propensity for research and an overwhelming compulsion to cram it all into a painting. This is why you will see many layers within my art, often including words. I like to stick the reference material right in the art for you to read, if you’re paying close enough attention to notice it.
This techniques gives a visual complexity to the art and draws the viewer in. It conveys ideas and boring facts quickly, without taking away from the aesthetic of the piece or beating the viewer over the head with an obvious message. Specific words and phrases can be highlighted or obscured to impact the message of the art and insure that the viewer ‘gets it’, even if they don’t realize it.

Iconography

LetThemEatCake

This is a visual tool I have developed and used extensively over the last few years. It is vital for several reasons and likely harkens back to my days at SCAD earning a degree in Illustration. I love to tell a story. I love to stylize and embellish. And I find that this technique broadens my audience considerably. People are not immediately sure what the painting is about, and often, they put their own spin on the meaning of the image. That’s okay, because the underlying message is still there.

This is particularly useful in reaching across the isle to change minds. We have to learn to engage people in ways they can relate to, get them to take us seriously, and most importantly give our views consideration. Iconography conveys messages sub-consciously without eliciting visceral reactions. Subtle elements like words, symbols, phrases, and graphics encourage closer examination and open discourse.
Most importantly, if you develop a strong icon that resonates with people, you have the potential to shift the culture, and ultimately, change it. The repetition of images and ideas reinforces an idea or belief. With repetition comes recognition, and with recognition comes familiarity. Hopefully, this leads to better overall understanding and interest. There’s a fine line between propaganda and marketing, and we’re talking about both here.
Though it takes time and perseverance, people begin to recognize your work. Once that happens you have the potential to reach a far wider audience. If you build a reputation around your work for integrity and consistency of quality and messaging, you will begin to earn support within your community for your work. Once this happens, you should strive to help others get established and lead by example. One of the biggest falsehoods in the art community is the idea that we’re all competing against one another. There is plenty of room for all of us; and the support that conservative and libertarian artists need is growing. The idea that we need to fight over a finite ‘pie’ is self-serving and ultimately detrimental to our movement. If we build associations, find ways to show our work together, and network as a group, we have the potential for a larger impact and return on the quality of our culture.
#TakeBackOurCulture
#IgnoreTheEstablishment
#SupportTheArtYouWant
#BeTheSolution

Let’s Talk Solutions

I recently read an article shared with me by a friend about the transition of the office of President to that of pop-culture celebrity. Please read the article first, so you can fully understand my response below.

Let’s Talk Solutions

Time and time again, I read articles about the problem with culture and politics; with little or no discussion of solutions. Though this piece alludes to the necessity of getting involved in the culture, it falls short of saying how or why.

I was so excited and optimistic about our ability, on the right, to address culture when I first attended CPAC in 2011. After the first day, I was disappointed by the myopic view of the majority of people being given a voice at the event; and their petty determination to be the sole arbiters of culture. You can read more about that in my article “What I Learned at CPAC“.

When I had a second opportunity to attend the event in 2013, I thought, surely people are starting to realize how vital culture is to controlling the narrative. Conservatives quote Andrew Breitbart all the time, after all. Nope. I was told I’m too confrontational and aggressive. I was shunned because I don’t fit the mold. This, by the way, is why we fail with our youth. We need to stop trying to cram them into a pair of khakis and a blue blazer, and listen to what they have to say.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s get back on point. Do we need a pop-culture president? No. Do we have one? Yes. The precedent has been set, and we can cry about it, or we can do something about it. Does that mean we need a glitzy campaign in 2016? No. It means we need to use the culture to spread ideology, move people’s hearts, and impact the national perspective.

Let’s have a serious conversation on the impact of culture on mainstream ideas and political progress. Let’s stop complaining about the Hope poster by Shephard Fairey, and have a serious discussion of why it was affective and how we can utilize such means to promote smaller government and individual liberty.

The first step requires honesty on our part. Do we truly want smaller government, less spending and self-reliance? If we’re going to be honest, we’d have to accept that most of the people in D.C. are not truly interested in these concepts, much less acting upon them. It’s time for an ideological house-cleaning. I don’t mean personal attacks and infighting. I mean silence. Stop giving support to those who don’t share our goals. Work with those who do. Promote their ideas and records. What we don’t say is just as important as what we do say. I’m not demanding lock-step adherence to dogma. I’m saying figure out where you have common ground and work together on those issues with each group, candidate, individual. We should’t be demanding talking points, we should be taking back our culture and our country.

How do we shift from a presidential popularity contest, to the concept of conducting a job interview? We find ways to illustrate and promote the proper role of the Presidency. Diplomacy and statesmanship. Legislative record. Real-world experience. Connection to and understanding of the American people. Take the candidates off their Ivy-League pedestals. Make them dust off the glamour of Martha’s Vinyard and the Lobbyist’s boardrooms. Demand principle in action.

Simultaneously, we need to create work that inspires civic engagement. We need to teach people America’s history through images and entertainment. We need to revitalize national pride and dignity. We need to inspire people to take back our country and raise their voices for tomorrow’s generations. We need to give them reasons to believe in America and reasons to hope.

#TakeBackOurCulture
#IgnoreTheEstablishment
#SupportTheArtYouWant
#BeTheSolution

Art for Liberty: In Defense of Human Rights

*Detail photo of the painting I am currently working on for my donation to the 2015 Family Outdoor Expo*

ProgressDetail1

**The images below are my donations to the 2014 event**

Stand Up

Stand Up and Be Counted Among the Just

12 x 12″, acrylic on wood panel, 2014

 

Moral Outrage

 

A Moral Outrage

12 x 12″, acrylic on wood panel, 2014

A cultural approach to Human Rights issues

I am an artist. Until now, I have worked predominantly on patriotic and political themes. Some of you know me from Liberatchik, others from MachinePolitick; perhaps from both. You may be familiar with my monthly artist reviews of work by pro-American artists, or my occasional blog post about culture and propaganda. I will always work on these themes because I love my country deeply and hope to use my art to inspire love  and respect for our Republic.

More recently, though, I have felt compelled to start using my art to help people who cannot help themselves; who live under truly oppressive and subhuman circumstances. With all the talk of slavery in the public forum lately, comparably has been said about the human trafficking industry. This must change.

I understand the power of art to move men’s minds and impassion their hearts. I hope you understand this as well. I understand that we, as individuals, have a moral responsibility to help those in need on a personal level. I hope you understand this as well. There is already a strong current of resistance building, of abolitionists, to fight the atrocities of human trafficking. You probably have an organization in your area. There are certainly national and global groups you could join or support. Please consider doing so.

I understand that art has the ability to capture the imagination. One of the most affective ways to do this is to develop iconography. Make a visible connection that elicits an emotional connection to the viewer.
The issue of human trafficking and sexual slavery is so horrendous, that most people choose not to understand the magnitude of this international industry. It is more convenient to speak of slavery in terms of something that happened long ago, or is at least an issue in some third-world country, than to admit that it happens right here at home. When you admit that it is real, widespread, and local, you realize that there is a market for such an attrocity; and that is very unsettling, indeed.
It is easy to shut down a web link or turn off a newscast, but once you have seen a piece of art depicting the atrocity, it lives on in your mind indefinitely.

This is not a call for gruesome and graphic works of art. I do not approve of shock art for any purpose. It is a call for advancing understanding of the issue and offering support to the victims and organizations trying to help them piece their lives back together.

In my own limited work, I have attempted to convey the horror of the situation while simultaneously highlighting and upholding the very real solutions available. I have tried to humanize the victims and inspire an understanding of the solutions. Most importantly, I am appealing to you, the viewer, to get involved.

***Images of the work in progress for this painting can be found on the page for my booth at a local shop, Libertas Americana***

Pinterest for MachinePolitick Art

#TakeBackOurCulture
#IgnoreTheEstablishment
#SupportTheArtYouWant
#BeTheSolution

Frances Byrd is the National Director of  Liberatchik.com and a contributing writer at Western Free Press and FreedomWorks. Her art can be viewed at MachinePolitick.com and LibertasAmericana. She has written for the Big Dawg Music Radio Blog and Breitbart’s Big Hollywood. 

 

Contact: frances@machinepolitick.com