Friday, April 12, 2013
In 2010, I was commissioned, by Chris Hehmeyer, a Memphis native, to create a large painting about Tennessee for his residence in Chicago. For this commission I did research at the Tennessee State Library and Archives in Nashville, from which I copied many old documents, photographs, and postcards pertaining to the state's history, commerce, agriculture, and culture. The painting is called "Postcard from Tennessee."
"Scenic Road" and other paintings from that time were offshoots of the commission and the research I did for it. For this painting I used a postcard that someone wrote from Tennessee describing a trip to the Smoky Mountains. The postmark in the middle of the painting connotes an exact moment: May 16th 1951 at 9 a.m. On the top left of the painting it says Newfound Gap, below that it says "Scenic Road," and "Mama said lets go home" -- all taken from projected images of the actual postcard. On the top right corner of the painting is the Two Cent postage stamp. The old house in the painting is a house on the property adjacent to ours in the Sequatchie valley.
The painting references an exact moment in time that is long lost and the words and feelings that someone had when visiting Tennessee. It also references a method of communication, real and handwritten, that is quickly disappearing. The little house lay dormant and decaying for years but has recently been lovingly restored by new owners, which is a symbol of hope.
This painting encompasses themes that I have been interested in for many years: how people move through time together; how they interact and communicate with each other; how important the hand written word is; how handwriting communicates more than what is being said; what is lost between humans as time moves on; what replaces older methods and materials in our modern world; and how people find hope in different ways in the face of a complicated world.
As an artist I am interested in conveying, through the work I do, my observations and feelings about what I see around me. I am interested in how and what other people are communicating to each other.