Borrowed Landscapes Study No.97/ South Dakota, Mt. Rushmore
Dimensions: 10.5 x 8.5″
Media: tape, graphite, acrylic on found vintage postcard
In January 2017 I began a series that I conceptually titled Borrowed Landscapes. As an abstract painter, I wanted to acknowledge a departure within my own work, but also to illustrate my intentional approach to these intimate paintings. I’m pointedly using our most common point of reference—landscape—to explore shifts of perspective and communication.
By taking familiar images and altering them just enough to become strange, this series invites the observer to take a second look and reconsider beliefs and assumptions that are perhaps generations long. Drawing literal screens over images of the land and American landmarks represents, concretely and metaphorically, holding onto ideas that obscure our views of reality.
Collaging and painting over vintage postcards of national landmarks, landscapes and cityscapes, I’ve created a system of order to reduce the images to an assimilated set. I work exclusively with original source materials rather than reproductions—the age and wear on the vintage papers is important, as is the history evident on the delicate surfaces. I’m interested in the tactile connection to these everyday archives that might easily be overlooked or discarded. Postcards are common—shipped through the mail, hastily scribbled with short, unmasked messages and dropped in a box; either cherished or forgotten by the recipient, they stand as brief records of history and moments anchored in time.
As the “marvels” of the past have transformed into the mundane, and our monuments become diminutive as cities rise around them, we’re confronted with the actuality that our picturesque landscapes change every era—just as we do. Our ability to remain flexible within these shifting landscapes and to recognize the impermanence of our experience is significant. And: what we choose to save and treasure will determine our shared future.