In 2007, I was visiting South Africa and participated in an art program that began with three weeks in cultural immersion in and around Cape Town, including hiking to see rock painting of the San people, touring the townships and Robbin Island and the visiting with contemporary local artists, followed by a week of studio time. Except for a small kit of supplies the participating artists brought from home, we were instructed to use materials at hand and work on themes that had emerged from our experiences.
While South Africa’s history has many parallels to the United States, the differences, including the legacy of apartheid, are astounding and sometimes difficult to process. But from a place where there has been so much recent violence and pain, there is inspiration in the natural beauty of the land and resilience of the people. In addition to the important cultural institutions we visited, the markets of Cape Town are filled with the art of many African peoples and I was struck how they embrace the use of recycled modern materials, transforming them by exploiting their aesthetic and constructive qualities.
When I decided to begin some drawings, cardboard seemed like a natural choice because of it’s abundance and practical beauty. I was also attracted to the idea of constructing a large work out of many small pieces and that I could then pack up and bring home. The series, which began with an image of an African wrestler in an abstracted map-based landscape, continues to evolve as I slowly refine the conceptual use of the cardboard. Each drawing visually links with the next, creating a progression of interconnected of images that has the potential to become a mural of enormous size that may never actually be presented in it’s entirety.
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