Newly relocated to the English countryside, I find myself captivated by rural living. Farm animals surround us. We have a paddock full of sheep, and get fresh eggs from the hens and ducks next door. There is a steady stream of new calves at the local dairy farm. For a girl from the suburbs of Washington, DC, this is all a source of endless amusement.
Yet who would have thought that moving to another English-speaking country would feel so foreign? Like in a dream, one moment I think that I know where I am going, the next I am lost on what I thought was a familiar path.
A sense of simultaneously being here and not, reality and dream, permeates this new work. Snapshots from my daily walks find their way into imagined landscapes, mixing the representational with the abstract. The farm animals ground me to a new normal, something I crave deeply after two international moves in less than four years.
The work is original C-print photographs on canvas, overpainted with acrylic. Artists have been manipulating photographs since the invention of the camera. From hand-tinted daguerreotypes in the early 1840s to Photoshop makeovers today, reality and perception have been easily played with and blurred. Some of my paintings are masked then worked, revealing more of the whole picture. Others are obscured, and only hint at the objects and landscape surrounding the animals.
The critters stare, curious perhaps about this stranger in their midst. With each passing week, they allow me to draw closer. We are getting used to each other, and it takes time.
"Village Committee" 40 x 30 inches
"You're New Around Here, Aren't You?" 32 x 24 inches
"Are You Lonely Over There?" 24 x 32 inches
"Should We Invite Her to Tea?" 32 x 24 inches
"She Looks Familiar, But I Don't Recall Her Name" 24 x 32 inches
"How Long Will You Stay?" 11 x 8 inches
"Reluctant Neighbor" 16 x 12 inches
"Looking for Her Flock" 36 x 24 inches
"Not Sure About This Move" 24 x 36 inches
"Have You Met the New Neighbors?" 20 x 32 inches
The geographical pilgrimage is the symbolic acting out of an inner journey. One can have one without the other. It is best to have both.—Thomas Merton, Trappist Monk
A geographical cure is the idea that we can leave problems behind by changing location. Be it a new town, job, or even a new partner, doing a “geographic” is a powerful force for temporary, distracted relief, yet solves nothing. As soon as normal life resumes, the problems return.
When we moved from Germany to England, I reflected on the consciousness of this choice, observing the spectrum of feelings that an internaltional relocation stirs. Deciding not to return to the United States was the biggest struggle of all. It's one thing to tell loved ones that you're moving overseas for a few years – quite another to choose to stay indefinitely.
Geographical Cure is a reflection of my internal journey. The colors and forms started out somber and somewhat contained. As my feelings about the move evolved, so have the paintings, incorporating brighter colors, playful forms, secret text and multiple horizons.
This work is the continuation of a trajectory. The landscapes I've navigated these past few years – geographic and internal – continue to challenge my assumptions about where I should live and who I can be.
"Inside Job" 2014, 70 x 50 cm, acrylic on paper on canvas
"Home is Where You Are" 2014, 70 x 50 cm, acrylic on paper on canvas
"It's the Little Things" 2014, 70 x 50 cm, acrylic on paper on canvas
"They Decide It's Time to Go" 2014, 50 x 40 cm, acrylic on paper on canvas
"You Can't Run From Yourself" 2014, 50 x 40 cm, acrylic on paper on canvas
"He Didn't Even Say Goodbye" 2014, 50 x 40 cm, acrylic on paper on canvas
"Journal Entry No. 2" 2014, 10 x 10 inches, acrylic on cradled board
"Journal Entry No. 3" 2014, 10 x 10 inches, acrylic on cradled board
"Journal Entry No. 4" 2014, 10 x 10 inches, acrylic on cradled board
"Journal Entry No. 1" 2014, 10 x 10 inches, acrylic on cradled board
"Bloom Where You're Planted" 2014, 120 x 100 cm, acrylic on canvas
"We Miss You" 2014, 40 x 120 cm, acrylic on canvas
Hard Tryer is a nod to the courage it takes to be vulnerable - to put yourself out there, even when unsure of the outcome. These paintings were started shortly after an overseas move, at a time when I felt way out of my comfort zone.
This work explores the tension between vulnerability and façade. What we share of ourselves with the world, and what stays hidden. What we are aware of, and what we remain blind to in the unconscious. My belief is that vulnerability takes great courage. Yet it is required for real connection with the world around us.
"Hard Tryer" (2013) Watercolor, coffee and pencil on paper. 80 x 60 cm
"Real Story" (2013) Watercolor, coffee and pencil on paper. 100 x 70 cm
"Just Fine" (2013) Watercolor, coffee and pencil on paper. 100 x 70 cm
"We Three" (2013) Watercolor, acrylic and pencil on paper. 100 x 70 cm
"Beneath the Surface" (2013) Watercolor, acrylic and pencil on paper. 100 x 80 cm
"She is Herself" detail (2013) Watercolor, coffee and pencil on paper. 100 x 70 cm