Where do we sit?

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Where Do We Sit?

36”x36” oil on canvas

 

This is an image of my son and a self-portrait of sorts, if you agree that the choices made by an artist are autobiographical and often reflect more about them than the subject they depict. As a painting it is a portrait of white privilege, his and mine.

In this painting the figure sits awkwardly in the seat, reflecting the contemporary moment where the old stereotypes and narratives of white dominance and privilege no longer fit comfortably. He sits centrally, a focal point, out of context from the larger group and conversation in the room.

Figurative painting can be difficult territory to work in given the complexity of colonial histories and the shear volume of white eurocentric visual content in the world. As a white artist drawn to the figure as a central theme I often think about settler history, my appropriation of other imagery and ideas as source material, and the blind spots to my awareness inherent to the entitlement I know as normal given my own northern european background. I am curious about my relationship to this milieu and how to navigate this space without tiptoeing around.