Genevieve Barbee-Turner


How many creative endeavors have not been explored because the people who were meant to be there had their future ripped out from underneath them? 

The Empress card is normally one where we discuss fertility, femininity, creativity, and the home. Those are sweet things to celebrate but they aren’t possible with out a stable foundation on which to grow. A home is one of the basic necessities of life. Our shelter is where we return to recharge and feel safe. The first home is our mother. If she is off balance than it sets off a chain reaction that left uncorrected spells disaster. “Stress is bad for the baby!” said everyone to every pregnant woman ever.

First a memory

The card this deck is presenting to you is the celebrated ideal. This mother is a creator of art and simultaneously a new person. She was a joy to draw as well and is based on many local Pittsburgh creators who somehow balance work and family. She was also influenced by a woman I met while studying at Carnegie Mellon University getting a science and business double major. Her parents are Indian immigrants to Canada and she described her upbringing as traditional including an arranged marriage after getting her degree. While we never stayed in touch I think about her often. While I was there to shed my past and refused any expectation about my future she a mirror opposite—so prepared for her family and stability. This is an ode to a path where career and family aspirations live in tandem.

Then a reality

For so many here in Pittsburgh and across the country things aren't as cut and dry. Over the past couple decades the cost of housing and healthcare has skyrocketed while the amount that people are paid has flatlined. The dream we had to create a space for our children to grow is harder to grasp. This is especially so in African-American and Latino communities. Pittsburgh is not remotely immune to this. We are a city that harbors property owners who are unable to resist the urge to sell up for bigger profit margins and displace people with little to no safety net. That or keep conditions in their properties so low that people with little to no options are forced to make due in substandard conditions. (Is this all property owners, no, but it's more than you think.)

The cycle that is created is one where a single stupid mistake can ruin the trajectory of a whole family. How many people are too busy surviving? How many stories are we not hearing because they have been stamped out by poverty?

Further Reading

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in an American City

Positive aspects of this card: Stability, fertility, home, creativity, balance
Negative aspects: Instability, lack of foundation, homelessness, premature death, creative block
Key features: This was one of the first cards designed for the deck. I had several local creative women in mind while drawing it as well as my friend from college previously mentioned. The field around the empress is not a manicured lawn but wild growth allowed to be what it is. The sun glows so hot it pours ink into her hands and her screen printing squeegee. She has the power to paint the world around her.

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