My name is Maureen Claffy and I am an artist. I make art. I paint about love. And I love my country. I love America. I am so grateful to live here where I am protected and free. I want that for everyone. I have come to find myself a civic activist. I kept wishing that someone else would do it and yet I knew that it was my turn to stand up. At a time when I really can not afford the time or the cost I have decided that this is the most important use of my time and my resources. I feel that the soul of our Nation is under attack and not necessarily by Donald Trump or any other politician or hate group. We are under attack by Fear. We are under threat of forgetting who we are and who we are to each other. We are forgetting to reach out in Love, across the grocery aisle, across the aisle in the houses of state, across the street, across the phone line, across the back yard fence and especially across to the other side of town.
The initiative for LOVE LIVES USA started as a yard sign project at my kitchen table with four women: a local politician, a hand surgeon, a professor and me. Jewish, Unitarian, Christian and me. As an artist I understand the power that a beautiful image has to turn the human heart to good and so when we decided that the words we would put to image for our yard sign would center on "Love" I was so moved. It was so right. I was all in.
As Summer 2017 progressed the project became pretty much mine as somebody had to make decisions and find money and quick as our target date was July 4th, our Nation's birthday. Then, I had the vision of billboards and started making calls. We became a not for profit. We set up a website and a fulfillment center for the yard signs. The idea was that the yard signs would pay for the billboards. The URL for Love Lives USA was somehow available. There were a lot of miracles and still for some reason this project was harder for me than any art exhibition I have produced. I think that is because it is so important and I do not want to be the only one to believe and to remember our greatness as a Nation. I so much want everyone to believe. I want everyone to believe that a change in heart can cause a tidal wave of love that will carry real, positive love and change all the way to Washington. It pushes forward.
I was nervous at the end of June. I had committed to the billboards in preparation for the 4th of July. My eldest daughter, a television producer, called from Hollywood and cut to my heart as only someone you love so dearly can by asking "What do you hope to gain from this". I took a deep breath and I was glad that I already knew the answer. I told Mary-Margaret about me being twelve and the Bicentennial year, 1976. I fell so deeply in love with my nation that summer. It was the fireworks. It was beauty that captured my heart for America. I want to pass on that love. If one kid flying down the 294 Interstate gets a good look at these huge, bright and beautiful digital signs from the back of the minivan and has his or her imagination captured by the magnificence and opportunity of America, then my job is complete. Because when you love something you will care for it and you will defend it. America will always need to be defended. I think that is becoming clear to all of us.
I am not alone in wanting to pass the dream to the next generation. The women of After the March, a group those four women at my kitchen table started, were behind the effort. They bought the signs. Do you know how big that is? I just looked over the list of everyone who bought a sign or donated and I am moved to tears with gratitude because the truth is that Democracy is fragile and not guaranteed. The truth is that Democracy it is under threat. So let's not be afraid and let's not get angry. Let's believe and let's spread love. For Thanksgiving and maybe even before, let's light up highway and street signs from coast to coast and in every state so that people remember who we are. We are the nation built on love and a dream and on miracles. Red is for blood of patriots. White is for purity of heart. Blue is the ink of written law.
All of those digital boards, all that Red, White and Blue beauty, from coast to coast and in 50 states. Please help us light them up. Let's light them up. Light. Them. Up.
With Love Always, Maureen