Mary Mihelic, Running Girls.

A series of artworks about the Chibok kidnapped schoolgirls.

On February 18th (2015) in Chicago, U.S. Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush spoke about how he would manage foreign policy if elected and while doing so mispronounced the Boko Haram, calling them the “Beaucoup” Haram.  So this artwork incorporates text art that reads “mercy, beaucoup haram”.   Merci is spelled with a “y”, since the artist did not want to thank the Boko Haram, instead ask them for mercy.   Jeb Bush is Catholic so the art also alludes to Christianity being under attack by the Boko Haram. By incorporating French into the text, the art references Charlie Hebdo and asks us how this incident and the recent museum attack will affect us as artists. The text is cut out of the paper similar to the way holes are punched down the side of notebook paper.


Detail imagery shows a birthday candle since at the time, the girls had been missing for one year.  Detail imagery references recent reports that two of the kidnapped girls were “disobedient” so they were brutally raped and tied to trees and left to die.   The artwork comments on how we, as Americans, educate ourselves about foreign affairs.


Mixed media on paper

60" x 44"

2015

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Running Girl Number 8

Running Girl Number 17

The Nigerian and US governments refused to release the terrorists “brethren” in exchange for the kidnapped girls, so this artwork examines the ethics around ransoms.  The text art “baa baa black sheep have you any wool” is cutout of the paper and similar to the holes that one finds running up the side of a notebook page.  The old English nursery rhyme is transformed into a metaphor for ransom demands.  The words “Yes sir, yes sir” are changed to “no sir, no sir” since the girls refused to go along with the kidnappers and ran for their lives (and the government won’t meet the ransom demands).  The rhyme also acts as a hidden symbol for the 13-year-old Catholic saint, St. Agnes, who’s symbol is the lamb.  She was dragged naked through the streets to a brothel, raped and then beheaded for her beliefs. St. Agnes represents both virginity and rape in the church.  Since the Boko Haram threatened to use the kidnapped girls as sex slaves and sell them as child brides and St. Agnes’ symbol is a lamb, the nursery rhyme fits. The lamb symbol is hidden in a non-religious nursery rhyme as a reference to people hiding their religious beliefs to survive.  The white color is lamb-like.


The artwork connects Agnes’ beheading with the journalist James Foley’s who was beheaded by ISIL. At his beheading, Foley denounced America and his Catholicism.  He was clothed in orange to make a statement about all the prisoners who are wearing orange in US jails and who the terrorists asked to be released in a swap for Foley.  The English nursery rhyme is especially apt since Foley’s executioner had a British accent and the government was able to use voice recognition software to help identify him.


Mixed media on paper

60" x 44"

2015

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In late September (2104), the Boko Haram finally let one of the school girls go.  The 20-year-old girl wandered in the bush for four days before she was found running through a village.  She was hospitalized and reunited with her family. The text art reads “hellp”.     


Mixed media on paper

60" x 44"

2014

Running Girl Number 25


The artwork is inspired by Dorothy Day, an American being considered for canonization.  As a young girl Dorothy Day lived a Bohemian lifestyle, got pregnant and had an abortion.  She went from radical to Catholic activist.  As a founder of the  Catholic Worker Movement she advocated for the poor and homeless.  Her position on abortion has never been fully understood and when asked to explain Day would reply, “We are not going into the subject of birth control at all as a matter of fact.”   Since many of the kidnapped schoolgirls now have children conceived through rape, the artwork reflects on the Catholic Church’s stance on abortion. It alludes to how Dorothy Day went from being considered a teenage sinner to a saint.  


Mixed media on paper

60" x 44"

2019

Running Girl Number 37

Running Girl Number 33

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Imagery is based on one of the kidnapped schoolgirl’s notebook pages. The artist copied her notes (and handwriting).  She was studying  circumnavigation.  


Mixed media on paper

60" x 44"

2015

               Email: mihelicm@icloud.com

2014-present Copyright Mary Mihelic.  All rights reserved.




Mixed media on paper

60" x 44"

2014


Running Girl Number 4

Running Girl Number 31

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This artwork reflects on the hundreds of thousands of Africans fleeing the Boko Haram and ISIL and crossing the Mediterranean in everything from rickety old fishing boats to cruise ships.  Thousand have died at sea while others are being born there.  Francesca Marina was born on an Italian Navy ship after her pregnant Nigerian mother was saved by Italy’s Marina Militare Navy.  Her mother then named her after them.  

The text art connects the sacrament of baptism with drowning since it has been reported some Muslims have been throwing Christians overboard (for Catholics, the sacrament of baptism is a requirement to get into heaven).  The baptism of Khalid Sheikh refers to Sarah Palin’s statement, “Waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.”  Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is an Islamic terrorist being held at Guantanamo Bay who has been subjected to waterboarding.  He is described as the “principal architect of the 911 attacks.”  The artwork examines the ethics around any confession obtained under these “enhanced interrogation methods”.  It contrasts that confession with confession as another one of the Catholic sacraments.  


Detail imagery shows terrorists in life jackets. The “ripped notebook paper” is made from the artist’s old drawings -- what she considers her notes.  Here it symbolizes ships capsized.  


Mixed media on paper

60" x 46"

2015

The artwork reflects on how many of the kidnapped schoolgirls returned home with babies. The pink vertical stripe symbolizes a backpack stripe. The pink stiletto shoe references the time when Melania Trump boarded Air Force one wearing stilettos when she was going to see the hurricane-devastion in Puerto Rico.  The stiletto comments on the fact that women cannort run in high heels and are more vulnerable.  

Mixed media on paper

60" x 36"

2020



Running Girl Number 41

Running Girl Number 15

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This artwork was made 106 days after the schoolgirls were kidnapped – just when reports started coming in that they are now using some of the young girls as suicide bombers.  The text also alludes to the Biblical phrase “I am” as it relates to God and thus, religion being explosive.  It references when women get angry and are labelled.  And it’s about the explosive moment when the girls who escaped started running.  The first verified report of the Boko Haram using a young girl as suicide bomber was Jan 9, 2015 when a 10-year-old girl was used to kill 20 people and injure 18 in a Northern Nigeria market.

Mixed media on paper

60" x 36"

2024



Running Girl Number 22

The text art “serpents” references reports that two of the Chibook kidnapped schoolgirls have died from snake bites. It alludes to the Biblical representation of satan as a serpent.


60” x 44”

Mixed Media on paper

Fall 2014



Running Girl Biblical

Running Girl Number 21

This artwork was inspired by the Miss America pageant.   The hoopla over Donald Trump and the Miss Universe pageant gives it even more relevance in the US today.


60” x 44”

Mixed Media on paper

Fall 2014



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Running Girl Number 7

Running Girl Number 26