Ravens and Red Berries

A solo exhibition at the Living Arts Center of Tulsa

Ravens and Red Berries is a large ceramic installation that appeared as part of a solo exhibition entitled Mixed Blessings at the Living Arts Center of Tulsa.

The piece discusses the struggles and complexity of the child welfare system in Romania.  Through personal travel and involvement in Romania Whitney's life and artwork have changed. For over 20 years she and her husband have volunteered in Romania to help alleviate the conditions in orphanages. As a result of Ceauscue’s communist regime, tens of thousands of abandoned children were left in deplorable state-run orphanages. The Forsyths joined one of many groups who traveled to Romania to work with these children. As a direct result of this work they adopted their daughter Simona, and at the same time, they found themselves fascinated by and immersed in a multidimensional Romanian culture. They have continued to travel and volunteer in Romania every year since 1994.

Instead of focusing on the potential and beauty of these children, the work addresses a more political aspect of the child welfare struggles in Romania today, the issues that continue to keep thousands of children held hostage in deplorable state run institutional settings. This work focuses on the increasing numbers of children annually entering institutions in Romania and the government’s ability to ignore this issue.

The idea is illustrated by a flock of over 70 black birds made of clay. These birds rest on a carpet of small red berries. The berries consume the floor under the birds in the space. It appears that the birds are unable to control or hide the massive multiplication of the red berries. As Whitney has watched her life change through travel to Romania, her artwork has also changed. One piece leads her to the next.  Her life has parallels with art in content. Before, she emphasized the found piece of nature; now she is more aware of the life and growth that informs her own life and experiences.

“My hope is that Ravens and Red Berries is an effective way to speak about the turmoil surrounding the child welfare system in Romania today.”