Brenda Edwards



When I started at ASU back in 1978, I was 24, recently divorced, and armed with an attitude and an Associate of Arts Degree from Phoenix College. It had turned out that going to college wasn’t good for my marriage, which was a clear indication that the marriage wasn’t good for me. Extricating myself from that union was one of the most difficult things I have ever faced emotionally (by choice, anyway). It was a decision that my ex-husband and I never really fully recovered from. He never remarried, and neither did I, although I have been in a strong 28-year relationship with a man who does not stand in my way. And although my ex and I have remained in communication, somewhat, he can’t be friends with me on Facebook because he picks very personal public fights with me, even now, after nearly 40 years of separation.

Divorce is a very tumultuous emotional decision, clearly, but it is also an economic one. At 24 I was certainly better equipped to start over again than I am today, and it could be argued that many relationships survive simply because it is just not economically feasible to start over again. At the end of two short years of marriage I lost my house and my dog. Had the marriage lasted longer I would have lost a lot more. And having grown up in a family with five children and an often strained parental relationship, I was well aware of the glue that bonds people together without benefit of emotional security or satisfaction.

Consequently, the work I was doing at ASU at that time had a decidedly feminist and political perspective as the print included on this post from that era showcases. At that time I was into political protest and women’s rights to the point of staging an art show at the Arizona State Capitol that damn near shut the place down. From those experiences I learned that political statements, although conscientiously fulfilling, do not necessarily yield income. So when I started painting again five years ago, I tried, I honestly tried, to remain apolitical. As a result I sold many pieces of art, while really, all the issues I had fought for then remain the same today.

And then Donald Trump ran for President, and to my utter astonishment, it was pretty clear he had a good shot at winning.  In assessing the horror of that possible win, I could not remain silent as an artist, a woman, or a human being. I painted just three political pieces this year, but I did speak out, and it cost me greatly in sales and support. Although freedom of speech and expression are touted as the very foundation of our society, our society clearly frowns upon it. But to watch this moment in history unfold without comment is to my mind unconscionable. Women STILL earn 20% less than men do for doing the same work, and watching women’s rights being further eroded by the incumbent administration is not an option. To look away when other religions, races and cultures are persecuted in the same way they were at the start of World War II is a concession for disaster. To allow such a bigot to lead this country without protest is a crime against humanity for all of us, not just me. Persecute me if you want, I will not stand down, and I will call out any other so-called liberal for not continuing this all important fight as well.

I spent the last few days painting a small painting to be entered into {9} The Gallery’s “Nasty Women” exhibition which will be donating all proceeds to Planned Parenthood, and my new year begins. I will continue to stand up and fight, and I hope you will too. But if not, game on.