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 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 I am thinking about Southern ancestral narratives – including the hard, sometimes shameful and always baffling reality of slave owning forebears – the images are not fixed and I am happy with as many readings as the paintings can hold.
So many thanks to Shelton Walsmith for the invitation to make and show this work. I’ll post images from the show here for the next couple of weeks.