What’s a talented artist like Franke James doing on a government hit list? She is being blacklisted by the Government of Canada. Granted, she published a visual essay asking Stephen Harper, “Why are you making us choose between the Economy and the Environment?”
That appears to be all it takes for the recently re-titled “Harper Government” to clip her wings as she prepares to take her art onto an international stage.
So much for democracy
I was under the impression that citizens of a democracy not only had the right to question governmental policies, they had the obligation. Apparently the Harper Government skipped that lesson in their civics classes.
Nektarina Non Profit in Croatia invited James “to raise environmental awareness with youth, and inspire teens to make their own climate change art.” With a $75,000 award from a corporate sponsor, they set to work arranging her visit.
The agency in Croatia responded enthusiastically and offered to help in getting agencies in other countries on board. Then in mid-May 2011, a Canadian embassy official told Nektarina they were withdrawing support for the visit. Since then, Franke James has been painted as a pariah by the very officials who should be proudly promoting her show. Not one Canadian embassy or official agency will have anything to do with her planned tour.
Who is this dangerous artist?
Franke James takes on a wide range of environmental issues on her blog, “My Green Conscience.” Her visual essays make complex issues understandable with their combination of graphics, clear details and personal observations. While taking government and corporations to task for their inaction on critical problems, as in Fat Cat Canada’s Giant Litter Box, she never hesitates to acknowledge her own struggles as she tries to live as green a life as possible (Paradise Unpaved). Her work focuses on solutions (The Beehive and the Hairball) and gives credit where it’s due (Who cares about the Forest?).
Somehow it is hard to equate this kind of green conscience with a seditious artist, but the government successfully threatened her traveling show’s international sponsor. They could cancel their support or lose millions of dollars worth of contracts. They canceled.
That $75,000 would have helped Nektarina Non Profit mount the show, but even without those critical funds, the small non-profit has remained committed to bringing James to Croatia. Here is how they describe her inspiration for them: “The uniqueness of her artwork is in combining science, art and storytelling, creating powerful and thought-provoking visual essays. Franke does not preach, she tells a story, educates and explains, leaving it to the viewers to make their own choices and decisions.”
Graphics from Franke James, used by permission
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