Your #Panel61 Highlights: Myth of Return

In the final, 60th panel of The Migration Series, Jacob Lawrence leaves us with the words “And the migrants keep coming.” The story of migration is ongoing; what would the 61st panel look like today? Featured below are some thoughtful responses to this question by local artists. Submit your #Panel61 on our recently launched Jacob Lawrence website.

maria-theresa-fernandes

Panel 61 submission: Maria-Theresa Fernandes

Maria-Theresa Fernandes
(Above) “This large installation is comprised of 28 panels and shows the various communities that came to the UK, the influence of their culture on the local community, and the richness of what they bringm i.e. food, life, etc.”

(Below) “This work relates to migration and shows the various communities waiting in the queue to be accepted into the country; in this instance, Britain. The work is digitally photographed and manipulated with stitch and collage.”

maria-theresa-fernandes_2

Panel 61 submission: Maria-Theresa Fernandes

 

brian-whelan_myth-of-return

Panel 61 submission: Brian Whelan, “Myth of Return”

Brian Whelan
(Above) “In my painting Myth of Return, the passengers set out with nothing but a good wind in the sails, a single oar, and a light to steer by. All trust is put into the will of God and the new world to come. They carry little more than their songs, poems, a hope, and a prayer.”

(Below) “As a son of immigrants, I am no stranger to a new culture. Spending time in the US with my American wife has given me another address but the drive of my work remains the same: a search for a spiritual and metaphorical home, which finds some consolation and expression in the subjects I choose to paint. These themes are often narratives drawn from life’s comic tragedies, on both secular and religious planes.”

brian-whelan_2

Panel 61 submission: Brian Whelan

The First Kin

lovell_kin-i-our-folks

Whitfield Lovell, Kin I (Our Folks), 2008. Conté on paper, paper flags, and string, 30 x 22 1/2 in. Collection of Reginald and Aliya Browne © Whitfield Lovell and DC Moore Gallery, New York

The importance of home, family, ancestry feeds my work entirely. African Americans were generally not aware of who their ancestors were, since slaves were sold from plantation to plantation and families were split up. Any time I pick up one of these old vintage photographs, I have the feeling that this could be one of my ancestors.—Whitfield Lovell

It was quite unexpectedly, in response to seeing a young boy in an ID photograph, that Whitfield Lovell began the first in his ongoing series of Kin works. As he recalled, “There was something about the emotion in his eyes that immediately spoke to me. I was compelled to draw that young man’s face at a certain life-like scale, and to capture as much of his expression as I could.” Lovell’s subtitle for the work, “Our Folks,” set the tone for the series, which has grown to a veritable family of 60 some relations—each one individualized with the artist’s careful attention to capturing the character of his subjects and their distinctive facial attributes.

The banner of American paper flags beneath the male figure, one of various flag motifs that recur in subsequent works by the artist, alludes to the complicated history of patriotism for African Americans, expressed by Frederick Douglass as early as 1852 when he asked a crowd in Rochester, New York, “What to the slave is the 4th of July?”

Whitfield Lovell: The Kin Series and Related Works is on view through Jan. 8, 2017.

Two Sides of One Painter

jake-berthot_installation

Installation view of Jake Berthot: From the Permanent Collection and Promised Gifts

Bold shades of yellow screamed out from the canvas, with each layer striving to grab my attention. The densely built up surfaces of abstract forms projected into my space, to the extent that the paintings themselves became three-dimensional. The expressive texture and spontaneity in Jake Berthot’s Yellow/Yellow were enough to captivate me, along with his other equally dynamic paintings displayed throughout the gallery.

jake-berthot_untitledtrees

Jake Berthot, Untitled (Trees), 1996

I entered the next gallery just as I started to feel overwhelmed by the intense emotions I read in his rough impasto techniques. This room, where his later works are displayed, offered a completely different atmosphere; instead of the highly expressive brushstrokes and abstract forms seen in the previous gallery, the paintings here were strikingly calm, devoid of any saturated colors.

In his later years, Berthot mostly depicted landscapes, focusing on proportion and perspective. His sketches are filled with grids exploring the geometry behind the natural landscape; it’s almost as if the artist had never been interested in abstract expressions like the ones seen in his previous works.

Walking around this gallery made me feel like I was stealing into the artist’s working studio while he left for a break; many of the works seem unfinished. In Untitled (Trees), underlying pencil grids are visible, drawing a stark contrast with the way nature is depicted in Pond, an earlier work by Berthot displayed in the previous gallery.

Why do his works look so different? Did he develop a sudden interest in ratio and perspective in his later years?

Berthot mentioned stylistic changes in an interview in 2013: “Young painters now know me as a representational painter. Many of my peers wonder what happened to the abstract painter. No matter what, I am still the same painter.”

Do you see the connection? What makes him “the same painter” despite the apparent stylistic differences?

Summer Park, Marketing & Communications Intern

Jake Berthot: From the Collection and Promised Gifts is on view through April 2, 2017.