Anna Rockwell (Artist’s Statement 2013)
My work explores our constant struggle to understand, absorb, and move beyond the past. I use unusual materials to inspire my paintings and drawings: ghostly family photos, food from my table, tableaux of bound vegetables and other produce. These models are fragile constructions that decompose or are transformed, as I explore how time and memory work. We are bound to the past yet can sometimes go beyond our personal history, or even transform it.
In the Subjection Series I use vegetables, meats, and other sustenance to create sculptural tableaux which serve as models for mixed media works on paper. These works explore what it means to be bound, by others’ intentions as well as our own. As these materials decay the model changes, metamorphosizing from something wholesome and fresh, through decay and death, towards a kind of rebirth in the final work. As the still life decomposes, I incorporate pieces of the materials as pigments in the painting. These fragile constructions, both mental and physical, help us to make sense of our world, but must be destroyed, over and over, for us to grow.
In “Horror of the Family” I explore a family’s psyche, both real and imagined.
Old family photos inspired me to create works that evoke a dark, gothic nostalgia. I investigate the ether and reanimate these ghosts of memory, creating new stories that incorporate historical figures along with my own great great grandmother. In these works I use artifacts of the past to fabricate a new history of my family.
In the Culinary Memoirs I capture moments from my table. These works become markers for recollection and remembrance. They honor the beauty of the ingredients while still evoking a darker sense of temporary pleasures and fleeting tastes. By capturing these moments I explore how my personal history can become part of a larger, shared, cultural context.
Finally, in the Equus series I work with the horse in myth and spirit. Horses are a vital part of my life and my art practice. I am attracted to dark tales of the Apocalypse as well as the lighter imagery of the horse as guiding spirit. The Equus Series shows horses in motion through an abstract landscape. The strong, emotive gestures in these images suggest movement forward, a way of getting through and getting beyond one’s own personal history. The horse inspires and perhaps represents my own artistic process.