Back from a road trip this past week. Twelve days ago we traveled to Ithaca, NY to celebrate my son-in-law's graduation from Cornell University, Returned by winding our way through New York’s Finger Lakes Region. Paused at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, then celebrated with lovely new friends at the art opening at Wilkes Art Gallery last Friday in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina.
Watching the scenes outside our car window I experienced a physicality of memory, like another person sat close and prodded with faint hands. I spent many hours looking outside a car window when we traveled as a child to visit grandparents in the Southern Tier of New York. Every flat to rolling hill with a derelict or well-tended farmhouse called out to my heart; remember this, remember this? The fragrant lilac transported me back to those homes buttressed by huge bushes laden with purple and white blossoms.
My childhood home nestled between urban and agricultural in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. Traveling an hour east would land us in Philadelphia; motoring an hour west brought us close to Lancaster, populated by Mennonite and Amish farmers. The hillsides of Chester County PA form the bedrock of my visual memory bank. The meadows that housed foxhounds & horses and cows surrounded our home and occasionally all three would escape the fenced-in pastures into our front yard. The perfumed locust blossom hanging low over our heads reminded me how I traipsed through woods, avoided poison ivy, and checked on early ripening berries or gathered handfuls of daisies to adorn the supper table.
This immersive memory of the outdoors informs my painting and collage work. The experience of seeing is only one part of the painting process. Equally informative is the smell, the taste, and memory of how it feels to be outside in the garden, in the woods, or on the porch at grandma’s house. I hope the work evokes in the viewer or the collector a bit of that same joy, surprise, or humor that I both remember and continue to experience in the out-of-doors. Looking forward to jumping back into the studio this week refreshed by a physicality of memory.