This summer I was invited to create a new work on canvas for an exhibit at Burlington City Arts titled "Stay Home / Stay Safe [Executive Order 01-20]". 15 artists were chosen to participate by BCA and then each of those invited another artist for 30 artists total. I was invited by my friend Corrine Yonce. We worked together back in 2018 for "Home Works" at S.P.A.C.E. Gallery, a show featuring work made in collaborations with affordable housing residents in Burlington, so it was fitting that we would be in another home themed show together.
Each artist was given a 2"x3" canvas and asked to create a work reflecting on the meaning of home in light of the shelter in place order issued by our governor in spring 2020. For a number of reasons, I was feeling like I couldn't count on home to be a place of safety and security. I lived through domestic abuse when I first moved to Burlington many years ago, and I could only imagine how bad the situation would have been if I didn't have places I could temporarily escape to. For me it was not self-evident that stay home equals stay safe, and I wanted my painting to reflect this.
At the same time, this exhibit was intended to welcome the community back into the gallery after being closed for several months and provide an opportunity to buy affordable artwork (all canvases were priced at $250). So I didn't want to create a dark, hopeless painting, even though that's where my thoughts on home were. I was thinking a lot about how many of us are not free to feel safe in our own homes, whether due to child abuse/ domestic abuse, environmental toxicity, military planes flying over head, police presence, threat of eviction, homelessness, ptsd, and/or confinement to an institution such as a prison, hospital, or nursing home. I decided my response would be to create a painting that felt like freedom, a painting you might escape into.
I based the imagery on the wildflowers growing around my house and tried to make it as colorful and full of life as possible. I titled it "June & July", after the time period I created it in, and as a nod to the idea that sometimes it is easier to feel grounded in time when you don't feel grounded in place. In preparation I made a number of drawings from life, which itself was a very grounding, and then figured out how to combine them into the final composition.
The show itself turned out really cool. Sadly there was no opening event due to restrictions on large gatherings in the state of Vermont. It would have been a lot of fun with thirty different artists, many of them friends of mine. If you didn't get a chance to see the show you can check out the program guide at the BCA website.
Leave a Reply.