Posts filed under "portraits"

Work-in-progress: the other side of the story

Thank you for hanging in there until I could come back to update you on my collages. Things have settled down for the moment with my family; hoping things improve quickly there.

Back to the far past, and my great-grandfather Taylor. You remember he fought on the Union side in Kentucky after either being freed, or escaping slavery. (I chose to paint over this image, since I have no actual photo of him).
After the war, Taylor worked as a farmer and hired hand. I imagine he really needed the work: he and his first wife had three children. Then with his second wife (my great-grandmother), Taylor had eight more kids.
So when a farmer refused to pay Taylor for his work, Taylor must've been thinking he couldn't go home empty-handed.
Instead, Taylor went home with three bullet wounds: on his neck, shoulder, and hip/groin. So the farmer who shot at him was telling Taylor -- who was probably "worth" between $800 and $1500 when he was considered property -- that his labor was of no value.
What a horrifying -- and horrifyingly common -- irony. And yet Taylor hung on, working around the bullet still left inside him, working around chronic pain his doctors recorded in his veteran's treatment record.
Courage was once honored with a crown of laurels. But since he lived and died in tobacco country, I've given my great-grandfather a crown of tobacco leaves. I've also ordered him a medal or two. Once I've added the finishing touches, you're invited to the medal ceremony.
Posted on May 13, 2014 and filed under "collage", "genealogy", "portraits".

Work-in-progress: one side of the story

Not having any photos of my great-grandfather Taylor, my imagination fills in the gap to build these collage portraits. I've taken this (copyright-free) image...
and turned it into these:
At the end of the Civil War, my great-grandfather Taylor returned from Texas to Kentucky, to his wife and two daughters. At some point, he worked for a man who refused to pay him after Taylor had completed the labor. When Taylor called him on it, the man fired shots at him -- hitting him in the neck, the shoulder and groin.
So as a Civil War veteran, Taylor looked for medical help from his local veterans' hospital. They told him since he didn't receive the wounds in battle, there was nothing they could do for him.
The pain drove him to two more veterans' hospitals in Ohio and Virginia, where they told him the same thing: sorry, buddy. I imagine him guided by the North Star, in search of relief.
On Monday, I'll wrap up the story with more about the other half of this collage pair. Hang in there!
Posted on May 9, 2014 and filed under "collage", "genealogy", "portraits".

Work-in-progress: Looking forward, looking back

If you follow me on Facebook, you might have noticed an evolution going on...
.. two collage portraits in progress.
The Janus faces I've been working on are inspired by one of my great-grandfathers. The family story is that Taylor escaped the person who owned him (either in Virginia or Kentucky). Near the end of the Civil War, pension records show he became a private, then a sergeant in the United States Colored Troops (later known as the Buffalo Soldiers). But the records indicate it wasn't until after the war that Taylor was seriously injured.
His doctor filled out the above diagram, with pointer fingers to show where Taylor was shot three times: once in the neck, once in the shoulder, and once in the hip near the groin. (P.S. That's a fig leaf in the diagram.) He lived with those half-treated wounds for years, searching for relief while trying to support nine children as a farmer or farm hand.

I'll tell you more of the story behind the gunshot wounds tomorrow... I promise...
Posted on May 8, 2014 and filed under "collage", "genealogy", "mixed media", "portraits".

Arts of the Terrace: Giveaway!

As I make plans for how my next year in art is going to go, I decided to apply to a group show I'd heard of but not applied to before: Arts of the Terrace.
Photo by Red Fish/ Blue Fish Photography
Like my previous shows last year, this is also a juried exhibit. It's held at the main library in Mountlake Terrace, WA. The show runs from September 29th to October 7th. I entered two pieces... and both were accepted!

You might remember "Impenetrable":
And the second piece, "We See"...
I realize I've made you wait weeks to see the full view of "We See", and I wanted to reward your patience. With a giveaway!

(No, there's no car under your computer. Sorry.)

I will ship a FREE print of "We See" or "Impenetrable" to the giveaway winner (as long as you have a U.S. mailing address)! And -- AND -- if you meet me at the Arts of the Terrace opening reception, I'll sign your print to you. Personalized and everything!

Here's how you enter to win:

  1. Comment on this post (here, Twitter, or Facebook) no later than Tuesday, September 25, 2012 at 5pm (PST).
  2. Check back Wednesday, September 26, 2012 to see if you're the winner.
  3. If you won but you're outside the Mountlake Terrace area: email your mailing address to yolisalisa at gmail dot com by Thursday, September 27, 2012 at 5pm (PST). Again, to keep shipping costs down, the prizes go to folks with addresses in the US.
  4. If you won and you're near Mountlake Terrace: pick up your free, signed-to-you print here:

Arts of the Terrace Opening Reception
September 28, 2012
Mountlake Terrace Library, 23300 58th Ave. West
Mountlake Terrrace, WA 98043

I'd really love to see you there!

But if for some awful reason you can't hang out with me and the other artists (ninth sign of the Apocalypse, intergalactic android attack, etc.), please take a moment during the next week to see the exhibit. And let me know you visited -- talk to me on Facebook.

Posted on September 18, 2012 and filed under "Arts of the Terrace", "art shows", "collage", "dimensional collage", "portraits".

New artwork: How we see

We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are. -- Anaïs Nin via
That quote sums up the thought process that led me to the title of this new work: "We See." Here's a snippet of the full piece.
I found out the man in the original, unpainted-over photo was a photographer...
Courtesy Library of Congress
... and it got me thinking about how what I see is not necessarily what the camera -- or another person -- sees. If he were on TV today, I'd probably label him Ambiguously Ethnic: probably not "white" but not clearly "from X group" either, from my 21st century perspective.
Following the sight/perception train of thought, I pulled an optometrist's lens and a vintage illustration of the retina from my stash. On his forehead and face, I embedded medical text about sight.
I outlined the background diagrams from his eye and his brain with hemp cord and red embroidery floss, knocking back the others with paint. Then I echoed the look of the retinal vessels in arterial patterns, especially on his jacket and marbled-paper tie.
As far as I know, the man in the original photo was the first African-American photographer in Atlanta. Thomas Askew shot his self-portrait and many others for a massive exhibit created for the 1900 Paris Exposition by the sociologist WEB DuBois. (Other than a photo credit to the Library of Congress, most photos in this collection are copyright-free.)
I'm waiting for a confirmation email, but I'm pretty sure you'll get to see this piece, in person, very soon! I've submitted this piece and a few others to a couple of exhibits happening in September. When I find out for sure, I'll show you the full-scale image of "We See" -- so keep checking back!