PAINTINGS / DRAWINGS: 2011 - 2012: Chiang Mai University Gallery, Thailand, 2011
YOU ARE HERE is a body of work that recognizes the traveler’s experience, and simultaneously questions the idea of what is foreign or familiar across various kinds of boundaries. This collection of paintings works literally and conceptually to map the interrelated psychic, social, and visual landscapes of my year as a visitor in Chiang Mai. The project uses the lenses of interior and exterior looking to collect, wonder, and record an individualistic and collective searching for ‘self’ in the contexts of cultural translation, difference, sameness and awe-inspiring beauty. It is largely the gratitude and sheer amazement at the sights/sites of personal exploration and growth that YOU ARE HERE makes most powerfully visible.
This show develops a series of paintings I began before coming to Thailand, which are based on the covers of vintage Self-Help and Psychology books published in the West in the 1960s and 70s. Almost humorously consumed with ‘self-truths’, these books are part of a condition of modern Western culture by which we constantly attempt to know ourselves better. I thought it was even stranger to find these books in second-hand shops here, in English, left by tourists over the course of many years. I see these books as remnants left as western guidebooks for future travelers, or perhaps souvenirs of a more universal quest for meaning. I pair these paintings with paintings featuring memories of moments spent within the Thai landscape, and still others inspired by my process of beginning to understand and speak the Thai language. I wanted to create a group of paintings that reflects my own experiences of tangible and intangible discovery, in the hopes that it would evoke a spirit of introspection through a layered idea of place.