Love is our Salvation
  • Cedar Annenkovna Mortenson

colored pencil and graphite on paper, 2021.

Artist Statement

I used thrown away white paper lunch sacks to portray this image the day before the courts are set to decide my fate.

We are not a throw away people. This is not a throw away world: when you think of a life wasted, of mass incarceration; of the incarcerated individual, think also of a wasteful life.

In witnessing and partaking in a cycle of perpetual violence committed against the eart we are taught that nothing is to be truly valued, respected, or worthy of love; thus we allow for the treatment of each other in this same manner. In order to change society we must first change ourselves.

We are what we eat, what we think, what we say and do. We have to eat good things that are healthy; that come from a healthy planet in order to have valuable thoughts, valuable minds, valuable bodies, and valuable lives. 

All the things that deter us from being able to have love, to give love, to be loving towards one another are what keeps us from happiness, and in opposition to each other. Love is priceless beyond measure, invaluable. 

Love is our salvation.

She is on her knees bound in chains by diversions and deterrents: guns, money, drugs, social media, police brutality, trash – non biodegradable packaging materials; the waste and refuse suffocating our lands and waters. She is bound by the concepts of penitentiaries as solutions for desperate times and desperate measures vs. treatment or therapy, being held down vs. being offered a helping hand up; keys thrown away vs. second chances given.

We must cease the production of non-biodegradable packaging materials, single use plastic disposables. Treat the earth with love. Help our children understand the concept of real love; the act of caring for all of life. Demonstrate this towards each other so that we may begin to live in a loving healthy society, on a vibrant healthy planet.

Love is strong. She is no weakling. She is determined to break free of the chains that gind her to the path of destruction and despair, but ultimately we are responsible for her liberty. True abolition looks like love unbound, free of chains. 

Love is our salvation. I inscribed this in two of the world’s most culturally diverse and widely used languages: English and Arabic to state one universal concept: Only love can save us. Love is our Salvation. 

Artist Bio

In the free world, I am a muralist, a chef, advocate and activist, athlete, fashion designer, tattoo artist, and so many other things. My creativity has no boundaries and I channel it through whatever outlets I can configure into expressions of beauty and thought. I have been here at this facility for over two years now fighting an armed robbery case. I’ve learned to be very innovative and resourceful as art supplies available on commissary here are very limited to nonexistent, consisting of lined paper and 3” pencils, and limited access to a pencil sharpener. I need a larger platform to create so I deconstruct white paper lunch sacks and tape them together with masking tape peeled off of notices posted in the day room. I make paint brushes with my own hair. I make tinctures to paint with out of freeze dried instant coffee, in doing so discovering all the glorious shades of brown one may achieve. I trade whatever I can to girls who attend the therapy classes, where they are given colored pencils. 

I use whatever I can to make into art, as I also do in the free world, as I wish to exemplify in my own creations the re-use, re-invention, re-imagining of materials considered trash, especially non biodegradable plastics and synthetic packaging materials (chip bags, candy wrappers, soda bottles.) I’ve been working really hard since I’ve been in here to establish a continuum to support my animals and help my loved ones with what they may need and to spread my message via my art and writing. 

Read Mortenson’s artist spotlight feature from the Justice Artist Coalition.