Blindly Following History, 2013
B L I N D L Y F O L L O W I N G H I S T O R Y
Blindly Following History is a series that follows down the same path from the work in my last show at Swanson Contemporary, Oil and Water Don’t Mix (2010). That work was a reaction to the global oil market and was populated with portraits of oil company executives. This new work continues with a similar working method where I start the pieces by doing blind contour drawings (a process where I draw the subject without looking at the drawing until I complete it) of the subjects in charcoal, and then proceed to paint them in using oil paint and old, used motor oil. The difference in subject matter this time is that these portraits are now of hijackers from the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The genesis for this body came from when I was asked to participate in a Louisville Visual Art Association exhibition honoring the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Doing portraits of the perpetrators who committed one of the worst attacks on our nation’s soil seemed like an interesting endeavor. The effect of the actions taken by these men in just a few brief moments is nothing short of astonishing. Beyond the tragic immediate losses that day saw, these men caused a multitude of new laws to be drafted, new government agencies to be created, tripped off global economic turmoil, and completely reset standard actions and daily routines world-wide. As vast a shadow as they cast, I found it remarkable that really the only images I could find of these men online were of their driver’s license photos.
I realize how heavy a subject matter I am working with, but it was really just a jumping off point for me to begin a new series of work. I found that once I began working on the pieces, all the background information was pushed out of my head. The only thing I thought about, the only thing I was concerned with at all was my interaction with my materials and the actual physical act of painting. I promise I will lighten up a little in the future.
The title of this show, Blindly Following History, refers first to my use of blind contour drawing as a starting point in the work. It is also a reference to me blindly following my past work with the new work. It refers to the hijackers in this work who were blindly following their culture, history and leaders. It also signals my frustration from the daily reminders I see with people who appear to be blindly following their culture, history, cliques, and leaders unquestioningly.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
George Santayana, The Life of Reason, Volume 1, 1905