About: The Artist's Statement
I grew-up on Isle of Palms, a barrier island on the South Carolina coast in an area known as the Lowcountry. During my youth, the island was mostly undeveloped and unspoiled. It is here, amid pristine beaches, salt marshes, and the inter coastal waterways, that I gained a great appreciation for the life and beauty of the land and the imagination of nature.
Unfortunately, today, most of the Lowcountry is overdeveloped. Areas that have remained at least partially undeveloped are accessible only to a privileged few. I am fortunate in that the experiences of my youth have given me an intimate knowledge of the barrier islands and enable me to access many areas of unspoiled beaches and marshes.
These pristine locations are becoming increasingly fewer and even more difficult to reach. Most people will never have the opportunity to experience the spots that are truly untouched by man. Though they may go to some locations with “environmentally friendly” development; they will never experience the wild areas that exhibit the true nature of the barrier islands.
It is very important that we try to preserve as much of the Lowcountry as possible. As for my part in this preservation process, I plan to record these pristine locations in my art. Through my eyes, hopefully, people will gain a greater appreciation for the unspoiled recesses of nature.
The art which I produce is not intended to be a photorealistic copy of these locations. Rather, my work will be an interpretation of my experiences as a child of the Lowcountry. My intent is to make art that is an amalgam of natural realism, memories from my youth, and my dreams. These compositions are therefore interpretations of the sum total of my experiences; and indeed, expressions of myself.
In the production of art, I study a great number of artists for both inspiration and technique. Rembrandt is particularly important for his depictions of the Dutch Lowcountry. These images capture in drawing, painting, and print, a landscape of large skies and low horizons that are very similar to that of the Carolina Lowcountry. Another artist working with the low horizons of a coastal plain is Martin Johnson Heade. Through his images of the Florida Keys, one is able to gain a unique perspective of the American subtropical coast. The Impressionists’ artistic approach fuels a strong influence on my work. The manner by which artists such as Monet and Manet capture light as they worked plein-aire is of particular interest for me. Much of my time is also spent outdoors on location. The Hudson River School offers a great deal of influence; especially inspiring is the manner in which many of these artists reflected the energy of dramatic sunrises and sunsets.
All of these artists are sources and guides to my understanding and development of my own art including composition, palette, brushwork, mark making and the manner in which light and air are expressed and utilised. Although the influences are substantial, I try to avoid pastiche and parody of the work of these artists. Distilling inspiration and technical information from their art and learning by example from other artists, I am developing an expanding canvas reflective of my life journey in the Lowcountry. Through my art I am delving into the quiet recesses of my life; being forced to look deeper into the person I have become and its relationship to growing up along the Carolina coast. The art created itself promotes an introspection of self beyond that of my youth into the adult I am today and affords a glimpse of the person I may become.
This coastal barrier is important to the mainland it skirts. These islands and marshes protect the mainland by absorbing a great deal of the destructive energy of tropical storms and hurricanes. In addition, they provide a unique environment for exotic marine and terrestrial flora and fauna. Development is not the only creation of man to compromise the southern coast. Global warming is also threatening to flood the barrier islands and salt marshes with rising sea levels. Many views of this phenomenon are not very optimistic. These views can be summarised in a recent article in the New York Times. In the Science Times, Cornelia Dean wrote: “....efforts to restore the fresh water flow of the everglades, given that much of it will be under water as sea level rises. Some geologists say it may be advisable to abandon efforts to preserve some fragile coastal barrier islands and focus instead on allowing the coastal to migrate inland.” 1
Whether from nostalgia or hopeful aspirations, I prefer to take an optimistic approach and produce art that might inspire people to preserve the Carolina Lowcountry. Through paintings, drawings, prints, and photographs, I will depict a wilderness that is still salvageable and a landscape of uncompromised beauty, energy, and imagination.1 New York Times, Science Times, Tuesday January 29,2008, pg. D-1, The Preservation Predicament, Cornelia Dean
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