faces of alienation
In 1990, Grabel began a series on Alienation—clay portrait reliefs set in boxes imprisoned by grates, screens and wood slats, isolated, defended and trapped, showing how the safe place we create for ourselves becomes our prison as well as our sanctuary. At the time she was involved with Project Hospitality, a Staten Island organization working with homeless people, and saw in the community’s negative responses to the homeless, how narrowly we define our self-interest. She began to use old wood because it has its own story and lends another layer of narrative to the work.
In And What About the Children?, it’s the children who are trapped, peering out from behind barriers of poverty and the debris of war. Grabel says, “Our representatives in Washington give lip service to family values and then slash programs for education, Head Start, school lunches, Aid to Dependent Children, earned income tax credit. And What About the Children? Children have been caught up in wars in places like Rwanda, Bosnia , Iraq and Syria. Hundreds of thousands of people have been murdered, families destroyed or in exile And What About the Children?”