I was asked to show some work at the tricentennial celebration of Natchez, Mississippi — the old river town where I grew up. I am honored and overwhelmed by the idea. I feel like the only way to “celebrate” it is to first recognize it as the site of incredible atrocities, as well as a place of natural beauty. Natchez was the setting for the decimation of the sun-worshipping native Natchez Indians, followed by a massive and brutal slave trade, and then Jim Crow-era violent oppression. Of course, as anywhere there are humans, lots of wonder and kindness and intelligence also exist. I don’t want the work to only be provocative or to lack beauty. At any rate, I’m working on a 25 foot work on paper of the river bluff of Natchez, populated by fragmented narratives, some historical, some personal, some pure reverie. These Calliope pieces are basically me getting a running start, hoping for something better than utter failure. My friend David reminded me of those old Presto Magix games where you were given a setting and rub off figures to populate it. Imagining something like that.
This little 3 minute animation was made for Vivian, commissioned by Exploded View Micro-cinema (Tucson, AZ) and published by Seneca Review (Hobart & William Smith Colleges, NY) in an issue called Beyond Category with all kind of wonderfully boundary-crossing stuff.
The movements of the animation are embedded in the paintings. Watch it and that will make sense… make sure your sound is on, there are sound effects. Here are the paintings (each approx. 8″x10″):