Gray Matter - Justice
by Caroline Rutledge Armijo
8” x 8” x 8”
discarded book, newsprint paper, grave rubbings, thread, paste
This piece was inspired by my friend’s second brain surgery of the summer. I promised her that I would pray for her. And I did. Day and night. And my faith was faltering. A couple of weeks earlier, I had prayed all week for my childhood neighbor, who never recovered from a biopsy on his brain tumor. A few days later, my aunt’s sister died of a rare form of leukemia within ten days of learning she had it.
The next morning I woke to a story on the radio about the fish in the Potomac River. I thought, “It’s the water.” And a simple web search led me to discover a connection between cancer and coal ash, an unregulated substance that has long polluted the air and waterways in my hometown. Numerous loved ones who were battling cancer or had passed away stuck out in my mind. After I sewed the two sides of the book together, I needed something to give the book structure. Tucked between the pages of the original book are rolls of collected grave rubbings of members of my home church who passed away from cancer.
Our family friend Anita, more than any other person in the community, likely knew the full impact of cancer. She was the third generation to run her family funeral home. She was also a member of a weekly prayer group. As I look back of the dates, I have to think that her final prayers regarding cancer in the community were answered. On June 21st, the EPA decided to receive petitions regarding the unregulated coal ash. Anita passed away on June 22nd.
Tell the EPA to strictly regulate coal ash at www.earthjustice.org/.
Learn more at www.carolinearmijo.com/.