A Song From the Field
'A Song From The Field' Artist's Statement
This body of work is the end product of a journey taken through the Delta, both physically and spiritually. Towns like Clarksdale, Cleveland, Mound Bayou, Greenville, and Indianola, whose DNA is in the Blues, are ripe with artifacts that were essential to the process of creating the works. In my constant quest to find a subject that would radiate the emotional power that permeates my creative process, I rediscovered the Blues. The Blues is a rare musical artform: raw, transparent, and unmistakably original. It is an artistic genre unto itself, loaded with emotional power, telling the story that only a privileged few share.
The Blues originated in the Mississippi Delta region, in the cotton fields, in the churches, and resonated through the very soul of the artist blessed with the expressive talent to interpret it.It is as American as apple pie.
As an artist listening to the Blues, I hear the words sung, the licks played, as well as the struggle and sacrifices made by my fellow artist. I create with paint, glass beads, photographs and a brush and they create phonetically with tightly strung guitars and raspy, passionate and pain-filled voices. As a son of the Deep South, and an avid Blues enthusiast, this journey was inevitable.
The works of art are mixed media, prepared and presented in three and two-dimensional visual form. These best reflect my passion and help me to cohesively express the emotional aspects of the movement. In some works texture is used to reinforce a particular shape that brands vivid the hardship field workers endured.
Critical to the whole, is the aesthetically and metaphorically suffused colors that frequently carried me through these heart-felt sentiments that were prone to elude capture. For this purpose, my interest lies in energizing and charging the shapes and spaces with unexpected and contrasting color.
During the formation of this body of work, the music of these pioneers filled the gallery and beckoned me to create and respond to their cries of passion. Sometimes aggravated, I applied every passage of paint demanded; other times, I chose to placate my strokes, diminishing the contrast. From the blackness of Sister Odessa’s face, to the whiteness of the baptismal gowns, the tints and shades of color are laid in with symbolic intent and historical reference. The information gathered during the trip, the photographs, video, and interviews, are from people who have lived their entire lives in the Delta. People such as “Rat” Ratcliff, owner of the Riverside Hotel in Clarksdale, Mississippi, who conveyed sagas of the musicians who had rambled through the halls of his storied establishment. “Red”, owner of “Red’s Place” had many other stories, including advise and warnings of dead ends other past Blues researchers had experienced.
In the end, this journey yielded many legends and tales of unknown legends that blazed the Blues trail. Ongoing dispute between towns people still incite heated quarrels as to which town gave birth to the Blues. However, one thing is sure, the Blues are the Delta and the Delta is the Blues.