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Decorah, Iowa

(In)Visible Transforming Device
Collage, 28 x 20 inches

Artist's Statement:
My response to the project focused on the anti-Christian aspects of the hate books.  This is one of several collages created from acid-free photocopies of text clipped from The White Man’s Bible. The photocopies were cut into pieces roughly the size and shape of matches, and reassembled in a style reminiscent of various folk arts, work that often springs from strong convictions rooted in faith or belief. After the collages were completed, a friend suggested that matches were an appropriate metaphor for such inflammatory material. All of the collages in the series are based on the format of a cross, which for Christians is a potent symbol of transformation. The cross is more or less apparent in each unique design, a reminder that active participation is required to achieve individual transformation.

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This is How
David Kamm, Jan. 26, 2008

This is how it feels to be the other,
the one who draws the shorter straw
or holds the dirty end of an unclean stick.
One of those who can’t be seen –
a footnote of invisibility –
the unexpected consequence of never looking back.
Just jettison the past and travel light into the future.
No one will know what I have done.
No one will see what I have made.
Let the record show, I wasn’t.

I crawl across a frozen sky -
Westard Ho! – to Helena,
over blanketed fields that darkly cover
the midnight belly of America.
I am on a pilgrimage, but I am not alone.
Others like me have made their way
to see what others like me have done
with our paints and brushes, our scissors and glue –
the aesthetic shields of our sensitive selves –
disturbed by others not like us,
whose poisonous books filled with pain and hate
have prompted this strange gathering.
We have come to shout, to holler back,
to match their outrage with our own.
No response can be too big or loud in the face of prejudice.
No response can be too bold when bigotry is on the loose.
We multiply our voices in a colorful chorus
whose passionate heat melts racism.
We know love can conquer hate.
We believe love can conquer hate.
We trust love to conquer hate.

But what can be said of the other others,
those so unlike ourselves,
creators we don’t recognize,
members of a churchless church?
Are they any less human,
any less scared?
Are they sons and daughters of an unknown god,
marked with a dark invisible sign
in a cosmic crapshoot before we were born?
I don’t know.
But it could be, our reflection is flawed
if we don’t leave room for something more.
Within our great collective “No!”
we must find space to listen
for the whisper of redemption.
This is how we sooth the rage,
learn to love,
and conquer hate,
under the broad American sky,
way out west, in Helena.

(This poem was created on the occasion of the opening reception for the exhibition and project, “Speaking Volumes: Transforming Hate,” at the Holter Museum of art, Helena, Montana.)

David Kamm