Tensions flourish in sweltering heat – animosity, rust, and neglect take root.
Lost grandeur and hope, cut asunder.
The open wound – plowed season upon season, sewn deep with old ghosts.
Calloused hatred shackle the different in bitter mistrust.
This series of works consists of about thirty pieces inspired by the arrival of the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta, Georgia. I was living there when athletes and fans from around the world came bearing flags of their homeland.
At first I was drawn toward the simple graphic nature of the designs. Then I began to examine their symbolism. And soon I started to wonder how the outside world might perceive the South, her flags, and what they represent – a culture dynamic and unique, driven by the ramifications of slavery, Civil War and loss.
Many native Southerners romanticize and wax nostalgic over an idealized glory of the pre-Civil War era Southern Agrarian Society. While others dramatize and exaggerate its atrocities. In reality, generations of proud landed gentry, vanquished in war, ruined, and held under thumb by Reconstruction policies mix uneasily with the children of former slaves; who while harboring bitter resentment toward their father’s masters and cheer the upset, continue to live impoverished lives.
To examine the gnarled scars I decided to develop my own flags.
Collaged images of gentrified life intermingle with those depicting rural decay and hard luck. Dancing figures convey ease, fluidity and grace, while soldiers and baking goods signify struggle of everyday work-life.
Rough texture of raw burlap, canvas and encrusted ink, together with silk and paper, suggest an urban yet earthy feel. Amber and burnt orange tones infuse these works with the warm, heavy, moisture-laden haze, indicative of the golden light quality and atmospheric conditions in the Southeastern region of the United States.