The scope of my work explores episodes of working-class life and culture in America’s rural South through the lens of my own family and friends in the Midlands of South Carolina. I draw directly from my own experiences and upbringing in order to portray this culture in an authentic manner. My paintings document themes specifically inherent in the habits and rituals of everyday life embodied by the rural South. Together, my paintings are an index of celebration, leisure, and fellowship for the working class.
I recognize the day-to-day stories of the small town Southerner by elevating blue-collar subject matter with scale, medium, and careful attention to detail. My implementation of life size proportions invites viewers to take part in the scenes depicted before them. Intrinsically, the human scale and style of realism with which I am painting, elicits a desire for interaction through touch. This haptic response is purely symbolic of the hands on environments of the working-class. In addition to scale, the juxtaposition of paint applications are significant to differing aspects of the culture. Some areas of canvas reveal raw underpaintings through transparent layers. The unembellished natures of these surface qualities are symbolic recognitions of the grit, detritus, and admittedly imperfect aspects of rural culture in the South. Moments where the paint is rendered with heightened detail and clarity celebrate the beauty in frugality and the ritual in the everyday.
I have found that the voice of the rural South is often misconstrued, misunderstood, or completely discounted by its outsiders. I am split between the more conservative world I grew up in and the more liberal artist sphere of higher education that I wake up to now—each heavily stereotyped by the other. By painting subject matter associated with a blue-collar crowd in the scope of high art, characteristically known for higher-class company, I prompt the viewer to question the differences and to discern the commonalities between these two disparate worlds. In doing this, I bridge the gap between these two environments, and pay tribute to the authentic voice of America’s rural South.