when i lived in boston i used to raid all the great used book stores in davis square. i love books, but in this case i looked for books with old etchings or pen and ink illustrations or typeset to use in collages. oops...sorry to those of you who revere old books and may consider my "defacing" a kind of sacrilege! i just create my own little alters with them....a different kind of worship. anyhow, among the books i found is one called the heritage of cotton. it looks at the history of the cotton industry from the "primitive world" all the way to the southern states' creation of plantations. i never thought to read the book, but as i was cutting it up one day - happening to be in the south section - i skimmed it, and nowhere did it mention the social controversy of cotton plantations. in other words the advent of cotton plantations brought on the abysmal trade and trafficking of human beings as workers in them. i thought about the heritage of cotton in my own homeland and felt inspired to make a collage.
i think it seems kind of peppy on the surface - nice colors, no depiction of struggle - but then it has a kind of sinister undertone that sneaks up on you. well, i guess i am the artist, so that's what i see...i love that so often the meaning or story behind a piece becomes apparent after its completion. the process seems driven by its own accord. but i am wondering, what do you see? is there a story there? does it make you want to look again?
i am not usually political in my artwork as i enjoy creating personal little narratives, but this one tries to skip between the two. the man smoking a cigarette, by the way, lived in my heights bungalow in 1927 when it was first built. i found a scattering of pictures, check ledgers, and notes in the attic once while changing a lightbulb. for the sake of protecting his ghost, and therefore myself form any hauntings, i am not under the impression he was in the business of cotton, but rather a small food store of sorts. but he seemed the right actor for this part.
i'd love to hear what you think!