When We Were Sun-Worshippers

La Esquina • NYC (Soho) • Sept – Nov 2015

The imagery in these paintings is heavily influenced by my ancestral roots in Natchez, Mississippi. I specifically draw from memoirs recounting the family fleeing during the Civil War to the little town of Shubuta. Themes vary but repeating motifs include a family on the move, houses and landscapes, classical statuary, a fountain, wagon mules, a lion-like creature, suns, and celestial eyes.

There are stories behind these paintings, but to borrow from the painter Katherine Bradford: all decisions are visual decisions. The paintings are not necessarily about a specific story or identity or politics or a stance. They’re about what will work, visually, with what’s there. Will this image/mark help the painting or shut it down? Often you don’t know until you’ve made the mark.

Each painting has its own unique system of governance. I try to stick to a theme or an approach, but, of course, as soon as an image begins I am subject to its peculiarities. In the end, I measure success by whether the painting feels unified despite itself. While some of my recent work concerns Southern ancestral narratives – including the hard, sometimes shameful, always repugnant, and often baffling reality of slave owning forebears – the images are not fixed and I am happy with as many readings as the paintings can hold.

– Noah Saterstrom, 2015