13. ELIZABETH “BETSY” MCLINDON
Self-Determination, Popular the World Over
1985, 14’ x 15’
Elizabeth’s mural Self-Determination, Popular the World Over is a “tongue-in-cheek reference to the common motivation for revolution—people’s desire for one’s needs being met and aspirations being represented. My primary sources of political inspiration were Loisaida, El Salvador and South Africa.
“Balanced and equal, male and female, two figures with heart-shaped heads float in front of a larger heart. They gently hold planet Earth, intuiting its fragility and critical need for its care. Directly behind is a map of the historic Lower East Side and Loisaida. Vines emerging from the heart lead to shapes representing maps of South America on the left and South Africa on the right, the latter draped in the colors of the African National Congress flag. Politically, equality—of gender, sexual preference, spiritual path, and race—is the missing piece in our world, today as 30 years ago. Progress certainly has been made, but we’ve a ways to go.”
Elizabeth, then known as “Betsy”, was an active member of PAD/D (Political Art Documentation/Distribution) where she knew fellow La Lucha muralist Keith Christensen and critic Lucy Lippard who told her about the project.
Moving from NYC to Arizona, then Cape Cod and Boston, Elizabeth settled in Gloucester, MA where, since 1993, she’s juggled art and therapeutic massage. Both are process oriented and, done with hands, have immediate results. Her most recent work is a narrative assemblage using found (recycled) materials. elizabethmclindon.com
MICHAEL STEWART (1958-83)
In the early hours
of September 15, 1983, 25-year-old Michael Stewart left the Pyramid Club on Avenue A and headed for the First Avenue and 14th Street subway station to catch the L train home to Brooklyn. As he waited for the train, he allegedly pulled out a marker and began scrawling graffiti on the wall, not noticing nearby transit police. The events that followed are not entirely clear but, at 3:20 AM, he arrived at Bellevue Hospital in police custody, hog-tied, badly bruised, with no pulse. Hospital staff got him breathing again, but couldn’t bring him out of a coma. Thirteen days later, he died in his hospital bed.
Years before, the city had declared a “war on graffiti,” waging a costly, and even sometimes violent, effort to eradicate it. However, as details of Stewart’s murder became known—for tagging a subway wall—New Yorkers were shocked by
its sheer brutality. The six officers—all white—were acquitted.
At the time, Michael Stewart’s death was emblematic of the widespread police brutality faced by people of color in New York City. Thirty-two years later, nothing has changed.
(Source: www.npr.org—Death of a Graffiti Artist)