Poke Berries, oil on panel, 8" x 8"
I've been working on a little something... Here's my Artist Statement for this new series.
As a recent transplant to the South, I have been struggling to find how I belong here, especially as an artist. I grew up in New England, just south of Boston yet, I have spent the last thirteen years in California. Our recent relocation to North Carolina has markedly skewed my sense of identity. I am now acutely aware of how foreign I am in this place where terms like Yankee still mingle freely in conversation; where even still, segregation is a reoccurring and prominent subject. It is through the nature of my new home state, that I have been able to find peace and a sense of place.
While in California I studied and developed my career as a fine artist. I received wonderful classical figurative painting training from Laguna College of Art and Design. There, I focused on representing the figure and still life in paint. In retrospect, it seems odd that I never was interested in painting that Western landscape. It is such an iconic setting for plein air work, and yet I never felt connected enough to want to represent it. Over the years, I slowly became less aware of my desire for a more familiar landscape. This desire wasn’t re-ignited until I took a quick trip to visit Chapel Hill, NC which reminded me of the rich greens, dark woods and rolling pastures that I craved from my youth.
The natural surroundings of my new backyard are at once familiar and shockingly different than that of my childhood. There are of course, many familiar plants that flourish in both areas, but then there are also some species that are unique to the South. It is these new to me, but common to the South plants that I find so interesting. As a continuation of previous bodies of work that explored the idea of representing the mundane as extraordinary, I hope to share the beauty that I find in these common, and often overlooked, southern weeds. Through my research and painting of these specimens, I’ve also learned some of the history of the area. As I’ve discovered how these plants were used as medicine or ink or even in Anti Slavery protests, I have found a deeper connection to my new setting. It’s a connection safely explored through beauty and history, beyond any stigmas or political agendas. It is an artistic connection rooted to the natural history here that has helped me find my place.