Mary Sherwood Brock and Joshua Wattles On Hope and Aspiration for Indivisibility in America

Mary Sherwood Brock and Joshua Wattles On Hope and Aspiration for Indivisibility in America

“Indivisible, to me, has always been about protest. In other words, it’s the protective glue of the American experiment that permits people to say what they need to say or want to say about whatever it is they want to say with the knowledge that they will still be included. Of course, it’s aspirational; we’ve never met any of the ideals of our country. But that’s not the point. The point is to reach for it.” — Joshua Wattles [0:14:29.0]

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Continuing our conversation with Indivisible 2020 participating artists, today’s guests Mary Sherwood Brock and Joshua Wattle engage in a stimulating discussion filled with passion for the country. Show curator Karen Fiorito joins the two artists, who both have roots in Washington and have been on the frontlines for their whole lives — Mary as an activist, and Joshua as a lawyer and lobbyist for the anti-war movement.

Untitled Artwork by Mary Sherwood Brock
Untitled Artwork by Mary Sherwood Brock

We get into what indivisibility means to our guests, where they both express the aspirational notion of it. While it is easy to dismiss aspirations, it is what keeps hope alive and gives us something worth fighting for. We hear about the work that Mary and Joshua submitted to the Indivisible exhibition and the rationale behind their creations.

Participating in the exhibition aligns with much of the work that both Mary and Joshua have done in and outside of the arts, and we gain insights into their respective activism. We also talk about having hope, where Joshua references history and how America has overcome a lot worse, and why he feels confident the country will come out of this moment stronger. Mary expresses a less than optimistic outlook but still remains hopeful despite it all. The conversation also touches on the erosion of the idea of the collective, the importance of getting back to a place of civil discourse, and the sort-sightedness of American exceptionalism. This was an exciting, rich dialogue filled with many insights, so tune in today to hear more!

Indivisible 2020 3D Virtual Art Gallery Exhibition
Indivisible 2020 3D Virtual Art Gallery Exhibition

“I want us to think of ourselves as family. For me, that’s what that word kind of means as well because in a family, you might not agree on everything, you might not be on the same page on things, but you still come together as a family. And I hope we can start to think about that as a country now. We do have to learn how to talk to each other. We do have to learn how to engage with everybody in a different way. I've spent the last couple of weeks wanting to get out there and educate as much as I can because there’s so much negativity. Everybody's using social media in such a negative, kind of trollish way, both sides. So, I say, let’s educate. Let's reach out. Let's not demean each other. We've got to bring people together and I really feel so strongly that we have to have hope that this is going to get better. And hope is a lot of work.” — Mary Sherwood Brock [1:23:08.0]

Staten Island Ferry Passes Statue of Liberty by Joshua Wattles
Staten Island Ferry Passes Statue of Liberty by Joshua Wattles

Key Points From This Episode:

  • The notion of indivisibility and what it means to Mary and Joshua.
  • Joshua’s interest in his American identity and America, having grown up abroad.
  • The pride Joshua felt when Obama was president and the strides made toward indivisibility.
  • Mary’s experience with protesting, having been raised in a politically active home.
  • Why Mary is so passionate about creating change locally.
  • Mary’s motivation for participating in Indivisible 2020 and other political work she has done.
  • Hear more about the work that Mary submitted to Indivisible.
  • The photograph that Josh has in the show and the meaning behind it.
  • Why Joshua feels we should have hope even though America is in a state of decline.
  • Mary’s apprehension and feeling of nervousness around the protection of the court system.
  • Joshua’s faith in the court system and why he feels this way.
  • The worry Mary feels about the fact that there is not a common source of legitimate news.
  • The deep sense of aspiration synonymous with America that Josh felt during his activist work.
  • Viewing the current moment with an understanding of historical context.
  • Mary’s take on the two-party system and how it makes people disillusioned with democracy.
  • What Mary thinks needs to happen in the Democratic Party for meaningful change to occur.
  • How capitalism has made the idea of the common good so politicized.
  • Mary’s experience of political conservatism in other countries compared to America.
  • Karen’s experience of having a Republican supporting father and stepmother.
  • Why Joshua–as a lawyer–is so concerned about what the Trump legal team is doing.
  • The duty we have to call people who work for or with Trump out as racist sympathizers.
  • America’s limited conception of reproductive rights and supporting women more comprehensively.
  • The US no longer holds collective activity up as an ideal.
  • How American exceptionalism has hurt the country in many ways.
  • Final words from Mary about hope and continuing to fight battles.
19 contemporary artists express their politics in Indivisible 2020
19 contemporary artists express their politics in Indivisible 2020

Quotes from this episode:

“I think we have woken up as people. I think the country has woken up. I think we have a sense in our guts about what’s going on.” — Joshua Wattles [0:31:50.0]

“The country will survive this. We will be stronger because of it, we will move forward, and we will be in such a great position when kids today are old enough to start actually doing shit.” — Joshua Wattles [0:45:54.0]

“We have to all be together. I think now more than ever, we have to adopt this idea of indivisibility within the Democratic Party and work together as a team.” — Mary Sherwood Brock [0:54:11.0]

“Anyone who supports this bozo [Donald Trump] after last night’s debate, is a racist sympathizer, and I think it’s just straight up reality. ” — Joshua Wattles [1:03:41.0]

“My father who was a labor organizer, he always used to say, ‘Every generation has to fight the battle over again.’ There’s no winning. You win a battle but there’s going to be another battle. You just keep fighting.” — Mary Sherwood Brock [1:24:05.0]

Links from this episode:

Don’t miss the Indivisible 2020 3D Virtual Gallery Exhibition

“For me, the biggest problem has been that we don’t have news. We don’t have truth. We don’t have a common way of discussing what happened.” — Mary Sherwood Brock [0:41:28.0]

Scott "Sourdough" Power

Scott “Sourdough” Power is the the creator and executive producer of NotRealArt.com. He is also the co-founder of Crewest Studio a digital media company in Los Angeles dedicated to creative culture and the $2T creative economy.