In my last post I described the process of looking at a “failed” quilt as an opportunity to create something new.
“Tom and Jim” was the quilt I wanted to take a second look at and try to resolve some of the visual mistakes.
The photograph of my dad (Jim) and his brother (Tom) was taken around 1912, when my dad looked to be about 6 years old. Both boys are dressed up as soldiers. They were living in a small mining town near Pikes Peak in Colorado when the culture was at the tail end of the wild west.
My dad described seeing men with sidearms walking through town to the bar or whore house from the window of his classroom. The family would be forced to move from that town when the mine shut down after the collapse of gold prices. Eventually they would settle in California.
SAQA put out a call for entry which focused on artists take on a highly charged topic: Gun Violence. Although politics and advocacy are not the focus of my work this photo was a bridge allowing me to authentically address this topic through the lense of a personal story. It also was a vehicle for me to reimagine this image.
The first change I made was a simple one. I turned the photograph 90 degrees so that the print would be larger. The second change was radically simplify the background. I chose to eliminate the background and place the figures on yellow lined paper. I cleaned up scratches on the figures and sharpened the image as much as I could.
Unlike my first attempt which was response of an open ended call for entry (Pathfinders) this project required me to address a specific topic: gun violence. Using the lense of my family’s story; I wanted the viewer to think about how over a hundred years gun violence has changed for children. I used accurate statistical data published by the Brady Center to call attention to an everyday tragedy for families with children not very different from these two boys pictured.
The text of daily statistics on gun violence involving children was floated on top of the figures to create a greater sense of space and to allude to relationship of present and past.
When the fabric arrived in my studio; I realized that I had made this too plain. The yellow background had no horizon line leaving the figures floating. To remedy this problem I used the lined paper as “sky” filled with script repeating the title. The ground became a dense field of flowers. The text boxes of statistics were made to pop out from the page using black on a white background.
You can take a look at the result and make your own judgement. I think it is an improved composition. Whether it will stand the test of getting out into the world to seen, has yet to seen.