• ARTContent: Suzy Sabla

A Totem Stands Proudly: John Newsom, the Pastoral and Solidarity With India's Farmers

John Newsom’s Punctum

Kansas born and proud, New York-based artist John Newsom is celebrated for his immaculately rendered paintings of the pastoral; images of flora and fauna explored in their synchronous wildness and grace. Fully immersive, layered and textured, Newsom’s work hits viscerally, always providing a punctum.

This week, AEL features Totem, which draws the viewer in with a single-standing cornstalk, an emblem of the pastoral surroundings that are embedded in Newsom’s early beginnings as artist and as human. It is a totem for the acknowledgement of one's roots, a totem signifying one's proud stance and self-assertion in the present moment, and a totem for one's strength looking towards the horizon.


by John Newsom

Silkscreen in 28 Colours

50" x 35" (Image)

54" x 39" (Paper)

A Totem for a Century of Protest

Satyagraha is, “The force that is generated through adherence to Truth,” as articulated and enacted by Mahatma Gandhi, who over 90 years ago marched 240 miles for salt. The Salt Satyagraha, which took place between March to April 1930, remains one of India’s greatest non-violent protests against British Colonial rule. Further, it was a mighty articulation against the abhorrent notion that a nation or peoples’ access to basic human sustenance could be infringed upon through the simple act of government penning a piece of paper. The Salt Satyagraha led to the beating of hundreds of nonviolent protesters by British police. The worldwide news coverage of the Satyagraha and its aftermath that followed, exemplified the powerful and effective use of protest to combat social and political injustice.

The last several weeks have seen a revitalization of satyagraha spirit in the people of India through the initiation of a nationwide strike, enacted first by farmers and now by India at large. With the future of farmers’ livelihood at stake, masses stand their ground, fearful that newly infringed reforms are in the interest of the government and deep-pocketed agribusiness and do nothing to assert that anyone has farmers' best interest in mind. AEL proudly expresses our solidarity with the farmers of India. While their own nation’s people and livelihood are imperiled, we appreciate that they revere for families and farmers across the globe. Healthy growth starts from the soil and we honour those who keep it rich, for all of us. For this, we share with you this image of strength, Totem, by John Newsom.

Suzy Sabla December 16, 2020

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