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Awakening Songs

One of the duties that proved most difficult for me (after creating sixty-two works of art, of course) was writing about why I did it all. I found myself sitting in the gallery the morning of the opening of the exhibit, staring at the walls which bore several months’ worth of my life. My brain, empty. “Influence of place,” my comrade and curator, John, said to me.

Influence of place.

The following paragraphs flowed out of my fingers/brain/heart within a half-hour’s time.

My mother grew up the daughter of a wheat farmer in the middle of the eastern plains of Wyoming. The vast, lonesome, blustery landscape with its blues, greys, golds and greens captured my heart from a young age. These scenes saturate my senses and I could forever portray the colors of ripe grain and stormy skies, rusting farm equipment and the deep nighttime spilling out millions of stars. More than any other artist or medium, this earthly place has been my most meaningful influence.

The family photographs I have employed in some of my work are from our personal family archive, yes, but I believe they speak in quiet tones about larger themes. They serve as icons of a simpler time and convey a sense of strength, solidarity, faith, and abiding love of the kindred. My work is at once light-hearted and nostalgic, sparse and rich.

At least eight years’ worth of weathered boards, rusty hardware, old tin cans, vintage buttons and time-stained hymnals await me in my studio. In each piece that I produce I seek out the opportunities for nuance and connection between the painting and any of the found objects that lie scattered about. Some pieces that I find stay with me for four or five years before they find their final homes.

The portions of lyrics you see in these works have come from a well-worn hymnal that belonged to my grandmother Hazel. That book is simply titled, Awakening Songs. I have always had a profound love for the relationship between written word and imagery; exploring this connection was a significant step in the process of creating this body of work. My fascination with those who have gone before, my love for the lustre of age, and my belief in these time-honored missives of hope and peace have served soundly as my inspiration.

The well is deep.


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