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Solidarity: Two Practices of Displacement
The paintings in Returning to Water and Active Currents engaged with the challenges of COVID-19 and legacies of racism in downtown Richmond, and especially on my campus at that moment. I wondered, how do we as a community respond to injustices, when the way to show compassion, ironically, is through actions of physical and social distancing? I work through these questions of solidarity visually, and find embracing the complexity of these challenges can lead to a deeper sense of order. As the community of forms on the canvas merged into one another and the hard lines that once separated shapes disappear, I learned how to notice unjust structures I may take for granted in daily life and the need to dismantle these through intentional gestures and actions of solidarity.
Active Currents explores the spiritual practice of pilgrimage that has shaped my worldview. On one hand, pilgrimage challenges me to engage deeply with the reality of the places I inhabit--both with the joys and challenges, strengths and opportunities for growth that come from being in community. On the other hand, calling myself a pilgrim also carries the Catholic Church’s troubling legacies of colonialism. Working through these tensions is a pilgrimage in itself - by pulping bulletins from Ash Wednesday 2020 into paper, I build up layered topographies that expand spiritual community beyond the physical church while also referencing the pilgrimage rituals of Stations of the Cross and the Lenten season of the liturgical calendar.
Returning to Water
These oil paintings each evolved from plein air watercolor studies. I flatten the shapes in the landscape into interlocking forms and transfer the composition to the canvas in yellow ochre washes. Then I build up the forms, retracing pathways over and over so that they dissolve into one another and become a kind of aerial perspective map of flows that are contemplatively active.
Returning to Water
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