Sally Linder

Sally Linder  


Arctic 2010-2016






Zebra Boy

To Return to Luminous People and Land Series
Click on Image

Luminous People and Land Series Artist Statement

In August 2002, I traveled with the Ark of Hope and its inspiration, the Earth Charter, to the United Nations' World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa. Wanting to share the Ark of Hope with the South African people I spent time in the communities of Diepsloot, Zandspruit and Soweto. These three informal settlements on the outskirts of Johannesburg, often labeled with the derogatory term 'squatter camps', are home to over one and a half million black South Africans.

During the long years of apartheid black South Africans were segregated from the ruling white minority. They were forced to reside in black townships and were used as cheap labor in the cities and mines. Since the end of apartheid in the 1990s blacks have been able to move freely about the country but the majority still remains too poor to afford housing resulting in the development of these informal settlements.

Squeezed onto several acres of barren land, Diepsloot, Zandspruit, and Soweto consist of shacks made with corrugated iron roofing, abandoned doors and plywood scraps. There are no sewers and no running water except for two hand pumps at either end of the settlements. The HIV/AIDS rate is astronomical and unemployment is high. Central issues and concerns of the World Summit were epitomized in these informal settlements: poverty, lack of education and healthcare, environmental destruction and social and economic injustice.

I expected to find profound hopelessness in the people. Despite inhumane conditions the human spirit and generosity flourish. There is laughter, music and dancing in the dirt alleys. Human dignity and a strong sense of pride are displayed in the peoples' carriage and clean, pressed clothing. Deep curiosity speaks of a fine intelligence. 'Ubunto', the Zulu principle of mutual support and responsibility to sustain life holds the community together. 'Having' refers to spirituality, not materialism.

The Luminous People and Land series flowed emotionally and easily from me when I returned from South Africa to my studio. Though I visited the people and land in the middle of their gray winter, the intense colors of the paintings reflect my love and admiration of these people. Using the structure of the triptych I wish to imply a sacredness and, by the viewer needing to open the doors of the triptychs to see inside, I am offering an invitation for them to be touched by these people and this land.

Sally Linder