“The Welfare Mother”-an Amalee Original

This 1992 painting is more apropos today. Check it out!

“The Welfare Mother” one of the paintings in my Working Women Series, I painted in the early 90’s. Somehow even though I grew up in a white middle-class family in the midwest, I never understood the culture. I mean trying to make sense of the values was extremely difficult for me. My mother was almost one forth Chinese, even though I did not know this in a verbal way. I think I knew it in a visual way, and that is why I was perplexed by my life. Bussing black children from their neighborhood into my white neighborhood started when I was in Middle school. And the truth is I had racial altercations when I was in middle school. Of course, I was clueless as to the social and political things happening around me, so I was confused.

I recall one of my friends getting into trouble from her mom for befriending an asian boy, and I remember thinking how peculiar that was. I felt like I was going to need a notebook to write down who was proper and who was not, as I did not see much of a difference from him and my mom. However I did not put it together intellectually, I just kinda felt foreign. Before my senior year I went to Portugal to visit my relatives. I remember feeling so stupid with my relatives. I was a cheater and never learned anything from school. So I eventually just started making things up, to answer their many questions. Mostly about my family, if I didn’t know I would just make it up.

When I got back, I wanted to learn. I wanted to know more. However I still found school way too boring, and with my bad study habits I made little progress. Finally I went to college in a small town in Kansas. Where I figured out that if I got an interesting teacher I could pass the class as I am an auditory learner. I befriended one kid from New York, and another from California who fascinated me with their knowledge of popular culture. After that first year, I moved to California.

Life after Santa Barbara

I moved into a collective. There was me, my boy friend, an angry young dyke (her chosen title), a cross dresser and his girl friend, an older radical crabby man and a few stragglers. It was great not to be the weirdest one in the room. I loved it. Sadly I continued to wear my costume of normal or so I thought. Finally I moved up to San Francisco and finished my undergrad in Photography. And started my Masters in Inter Arts where I painted “The Working Women Series.”

The welfare Mother

This series consists of six large paintings (6 feet X 5 Feet) of Working Women. In this series I was investigating “traditional women’s” jobs in the home and world. Focusing on the lack of financial appreciation for the skill of nurturing. “The Welfare Mother” painting style was based on the German Expressionists. The main character I borrowed from Otto Dix painting, and made her pregnant. I put two little George Grosz paintings in the welfare office. The perspective is from the view of the Welfare worker. The Welfare Worker represents society pointing a blaming finger at the pregnant woman. In this painting I tried to question blaming the poorest people of our society for our problems. This painting is probably more relevant today. We still live in lack culture, based on few people having all the wealth. Let’s wake up.

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