PUSHING PAINT OVER SHAKY GROUND

 

History says. Don’t hope

On this side of the grave.

But then, once in a lifetime

The longed-for tidal wave of justice

Can rise up,

And hope and history rhyme. 

So hope for a great sea-change

On the far side of revenge.

Believe that a further shore

Is reachable from here.

Believe in miracles

And cures and healing wells.

    — Seamus Heaney, from The Cure at Troy

 

In this series of new paintings, I have left figuration behind and have taken a dive into the motion and chaos of abstraction. I lay the ground of these works in mixed media, overlaying silk screen photo and text imagery, collage, pastel and graphite to build the narrative structure of the paintings. I begin with long-time themes of family history, using magazine advertising imagery from the 1930s through the 1960s, as well as letters and postcards written during World War 2. Memory sets the structure, allowing me the freedom to emotionally respond in paint. 

I work with an overarching theme of interior and exterior realities. The “Interiors” series depicts little houses being tossed throughout landscape and sky. They are rendered encaustically in pastel paint colors common in California home decor during the 1940s and 1950s. Like little scale models of Dorothy’s house in The Wizard of Oz, the Lego-like houses contain text and images of domesticity and family culture in the collaged form of letters and postcards which were sent to my grandmother during the 1930s and 1940s as well as advertising illustrations found in women’s magazines from the same time period. 

The “Exteriors” series presents an abstracted plane of dark and saturated colors troweled across sections of silk-screened TV dialogue written by my father in the 1970s. Woven throughout the text are drawings of female figures. The gestural line work of these drawings sets up a template of motion for me to paint through and around. The text creates a psychological tension of dialogue between myself and the painting surfaces. 

Although I describe these paintings as abstract, I never fully leave the exploration of narrative themes of drama and struggle found within family history far behind… 

…hope and history rhyme, hoping for a great sea change on the far side of revenge.