Polyglots & Chasms
Artist Statement

Polyglots’ faces split at each crossroad, their tongues are many, and their eyes see all around. They are those who have moved and been moved to become another form, to multiply, to fracture, to reform or transform. Who have traveled around and multiplied. Who have walked in many shoes. Who have seen the world from many angles; through many lenses; with many eyes.

The term polyglot literally means “many-tongued.”  The concept suggests that to learn a language is to grow a new organ or muscle.  It implies that one may become physically altered by an alteration in consciousness.  When understanding consciousness in such a way, we can begin to imagine those who transfer homes, or change direction, or are stirred to make themselves anew, might grow new sensory organs for each new growth in experience.

The chasms are those spaces left unfilled, the hollows, the sink holes. They are the fractures and fissures that form from the shifting tectonic plates of human experience. The polyglots, with their many faces and extra appendages, are like the corresponding mountains. As this landscape shifts, so too new growth emerges.

Together, the polyglots and the chasms are explorations of the elusive inner life of the human. By transfiguring the human bodies and the landscapes within my paintings, I seek to make that enigma we call experience visible. In a portrait, this may translate as a fractured face, multiplied, yet hollowed out. In a multiple-figure scene, the landscape provides further meaning. Often fissured and riddled with lightning, arcs of light, stretched shadows, and hollow spaces, the landscapes are symbolic extensions of the human figures seen within. The hollows and the mountains of my homeland of Appalachia are essential visual metaphors within my works.

I am fascinated by the role our mind plays in translating and interpreting the sensations of the world. When our brain defects, like in the experience of a migraine, a painful event, or a frequently revisited memory, the images become jumbled. Suddenly the world is part conceivable, part irrational kaleidoscope of sensation. The chasm opens and fills with unrelated images. Similarly, these paintings fracture and refill, forming a fissured translation of lived experience.

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Slemp Gallery, Robb Hall
2nd floor lobby and Wampler Library
3441 Mountain Empire Road
Big Stone Gap, VA 24219
Phone: 276.523.2400 x468
Fax: 276.523.8220

Fall and Spring Hours:
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Friday: 8am – 4:30pm
Saturday: 10am – 2pm

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Summer Hours:
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Friday: 8am – 4:30pm
Saturday: 10am – 2pm