2. KARIN BATTEN
Nicaragua, 1985, 12’ x 16’
Karin’s mural addresses United States involvement in Nicaragua, one of four Central American countries—the others being Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala—where U.S.-sponsored funding and interventions led to disastrous results. Fearing that Nicaragua would become another Cuba, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency trained militias to overthrow the democratically elected Sandinista government, “popular,” Karin writes, “for its free education and healthcare as well as the preservation of the small farms people favored.”
In the mural, a Sandinista soldier stands protectively over children learning to read, the words “La Lucha Continua” filling a page in their books. Above, helicopters release bombs over the land. “Since the mural did not require scaffolding, neighborhood children worked alongside me, helping to paint the farm scene—a farmer, a cow, a chicken, and trees. They were city kids who had little experience with farm animals and crops. Being a teacher, I explained the food the animals provide and what a farm produces.”
In late 1985, months after the mural’s completion, the Reagan administration began diverting funds from weapon sales in Iran to buy arms for the Contras fighting the leftist Sandinistas. This violated both an international arms embargo against Iran and a congressional order forbidding the administration from supplying the Contras. The weapon sales were revealed a year later. Known as the Iran Contra Affair, the deception to protect 14 officials, including the president, has been described as “post-truth politics.” This is very similar to the current administration’s tendency promote “alternate facts.”
Karin met Eva through her work with the National Alliance Against Racism and Repression. She was also a member of PADD (Political Art Documentation/Distribution) and worked with critic and activist Lucy Lippard. As a teacher at Parsons, Karin organized shows addressing opposition to war and nuclear proliferation. She helped organize La Lucha, designing the flyers seeking artists as well as the poster for the dedication fiesta, which was attended by Roberto Vargas, the cultural attaché of the Nicaraguan Embassy.
A painter and graphic artist, Karin lives and works at Westbeth artist housing in NYC and directs the Westbeth Gallery. She is represented by June Kelly Gallery and shows regularly in Europe. Karin’s work is in the collection of the National September 11 Museum,and she taught for many years at Parsons School of Design. karinbatten.com