Degrees of Separation


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Mary Jenewein, “Far From Home,” 2012-2014

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Mary Jenewein
Far From Home, 2012–2014
Mixed Media

In John Hersey’s novel, My Petition for More Space, the protagonist waits in an endless line to ask for more space than the 7’x11’ citizens are allotted by the ruling bureaucracy. His request is preposterous, as he knows, and he is only one of thousands on this fruitless quest. The petitioners slowly move past a small patch of grass encased in glass (the only green most will ever see) which can only be mowed by high ranking officials. Is this bleak scene the plan for those homeless who occupy our concrete streets and sidewalks, our highway underpasses, our tiny patches of city wasteland? Will we do better for our dispossessed, our veterans, our throwaway children? Will we forever shut our borders to those trying for a better life for their families and themselves? These border closings reflect our unwillingness to share our prosperity.

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Summary Biography

Mary Jenewein was born in Savannah, Georgia to a Korean father and a Caucasian mother during a time when anti-miscegenation laws were widely accepted. Although her parents never separated their marriage was considered illegitimate until they moved to Texas many years later. After her father was taken away to a concentration camp for two weeks, she became acutely aware of the inequity of her position as a biracial woman in the Deep South. Her exclusion from various social situations while growing up due to her mixed race heritage bred a sense of empathy for outsiders and people on the periphery. This led her to pursue a degree at the University of North Carolina in political science. She studied fine art at the University of Houston’s Lawndale Art Center under the guidance of James Surls and John Alexander.