A Message from the Artist

 

Thank you viewing the work at this site. In my newest project “Between Now and Then“, I am portraying the emotional interchange I have with specific landscapes, oftentimes, and especially with the Irish work, there is a “draw” or fascination with the land, the water, the perceived past, the atmosphere and energy I feel from being there, I feel a strong connection to Ireland, more than just having spent over two and a half years there since 1999.  The ancient Ring Forts and surrounding folklore fuel my work, I desire to show these areas as live examples of my own genetic past.  In the current and ongoing “Chop Wood, Carry Water” series, an important goal is to make visual reminders of how to stay in the moment with the photographs and occasional mixed media work.  In other bodies of work, the on-going “A Cup of Cold Water Project“, “American Portraits” and a few others I am reaching outward to convey a message of social concern that I feel needs to be considered.

Much of my work is not in an edition,  I have too many new things I want to work on.  I believe my largest edition has been 5 of any one photograph in a particular size. Due to the nature of hand glazing and fusion to the wood panels on much of the newest work, no two would ever come out exactly anyway, and a large amount of work has been worked on with small brushes and pigment and many with color pencil.  So I am not a purest in the photographic sense.  I try to take the necessary steps to accomplish the goal of a specific image.  Only one image hasn’t been altered, in the gallery “Ones” the photograph “A View of the Lake” was shot the way it is presented for viewing matching the final print color to my screen color.  That image probably looks the most altered in a traditional photographic sense.  I’ve never been interested in purist rules, what I care about is that each photograph or mixed media work I make has content, is organized visually, and that the color (or lack of color) is intentional.  I work in very specific lighting situations,  I have a hard time seeing in direct bright light and wouldn’t ever choose to work in it anyway,  I like to see my way around in most art I look at or make, unless, of course, it was the intent to somehow block viewing.  On lighting, only in social documentary project “A Cup of Cold Water Project” did I photograph in harsh or bright light, even in India I would avoid that quality whenever possible.

Until recently I was working full-time as a Professor of Art at Irvine Valley College, Irvine, California, specializing in creative photography, design and color theory. Currently I am working solely on making art, a desire I have had for many years.

For exhibition consideration, C.V. or purchase information please contact me @ jerrymcgrathart@gmail.com

Jerry McGrath

 

Specific information on A Cup of Cold Water

The “A Cup of Cold Water Project” is a photographic social documentary work, addressing issues of forced prostitution, especially as it pertains to children and young women in India; those who are or have been sold in sex trafficking, regardless of any social objectification. Many of us in the West do not believe, or, are unaware that forced prostitution continues to thrive for social and economic reasons. Seeing the faces of those enslaved and the faces of those who are at risk plays a critical role in getting them the help that they desperately need.

In some pictures I show the deplorable living conditions that are a factor that lead to forced prostitution. Always the problem arises from the depths of poverty; the daughters and sons of the rich are never sold, it’s always the children of the poor.  The largest population of the destitute poor are the Dalit (formerly known as Untouchables). There are 250 + million of these people living under the social stigma of caste, making them worthless, in the eyes of many of the higher Indian castes, than slaves or livestock. There are countless others at the bottom of the caste system, part of what is referred to as Other Backward Castes (O.B.C.’s). When any family is literally starving to death they will do almost anything to save their families and themselves, even selling their daughters into prostitution. With their choices narrowed to starvation or human trafficking, many are forced to choose the latter.

It is a common belief in South Asia that a virgin can cure HIV; this partially explains why the children being sold, kidnapped and raped keep getting younger-children caught in the sex trade are now as young as three-years-old. They have no option but to continue their lives as sex workers until they are discarded by their captors because of age, or more frequently, because they become too sick to be of value. With an estimated 80% of current brothel workers testing positive for HIV, premature death is imminent due to lack of protection and medications.

I have worked with many non-profit humanitarian groups (along with dedicated individuals) within India, these Non-Governmental Organizations (N.G.O.) are usually the most successful when run by Indian people. These people were indispensable in helping me tell this small part of the story. They are the ones on the front line; they are the ones who provide working and living options for those fortunate enough to escape the barbaric sex trade.  This work is available free for exhibition for non-profit sites.