DOROTHY FAISON Although Widely Grown, They Were of Little Value 1998 - x +
FaiD1998they


CN: FaiD1998they

MT: mixed media: dirt, gum arabic, charcoal, watercolor, and pigments on BFK Rives hand-woven roll paper, framed in perspex (107x166)

TX: inscribed across canvas in pencil and graphite <although widely grown they were of little value>, signed with pencil at lower right <Faison 98>

PC: Ms. Dorothy Faison - 2007

LC: ACG - Office of Vice President for European & Regional Engagement

CM: "This work is part of my things of little value series within my ongoing narrative. It reflects the Cabinet of Curiosities approach to 'label, bottle and put values on items of other cultures'. This series was sparked by a paragraph in an old botany text referring to the Bullock's Heart (annona reticulata) as "although widely grown these fruits are of little value". The interpretation of value is dependent upon where and how one is evaluating. Hawaii is 'out of the mainstream' was a 'colony' as well as a kingdom and has experienced the layers of culture, culture envy, and greed. It is difficult for the centers of the art world and commerce to take Hawaii seriously. It is thought most of as a vacation destination.The image of the Whitney Museum is included like a card floating in the night sky on the lower left. This work includes our need to collect and label objects such as birds (who are killed in order to be better drawn). The need to protect children, people, animals, things has been an important theme throughout my work. The use of jars here is another form of protection. Objects on the shelf in jars include several annona fruits including the Bullock's Heart. (The reference to human hearts is obvious). Potatoes are also included particularly for their reference to South America, where I spent three years as a child and to the failure of developed agriculture to understand the need for variety in plants and health of the soils (e.g. potato famine in Ireland ). There is also a raccoon in the upper left. The raccoon is one animal in nature that went from diurnal to nocturnal to better live alongside human developments. I therefore often draw the raccoon as turning. I choose imagery that has great personal meaning and is compelling from a formal standpoint and can be 'read' in many layers. I want my work to slowly reveal itself to viewers over time so that the continuous narrative never ends. I often use multiple perspectives and flat as well as landscape depth within the same work. The same can be said for walking a line between 'realism' and 'abstraction'. I am involved in both the content and form when creating my works. I was still in art school when I felt the need to add visual commentary to the narratives in my work. I had studied Classical Greek Literature and was influenced by the use of the chorus in the plays of Aeschylus and Sophocles. I began adding a border at the bottom or side of works as the chorus which gradually became more integrated with the work or as playing cards (randomness) or small insets or miniatures in a larger piece. In this work there are two specific insets: the Whitney Museum and the island image on the lower right. The island Image originally was a comment on the island of the birth of the Incan gods in Lake Titicaca, along with the Cyprus tree signifying death and a quest for immortality. I was fascinated by Lake Titicaca and my mother and step-father had a Birth Certificate drawn up in Bolivia to change my name. I lived in New York until I was six and then in Costa Rica for three years and Bolivia for another three years before coming to Hawaii. Hawaii has many influences from Asia and I studied both Japanese and Chinese languages and art history. The island serves as a symbol for many ideas including Hawaii , bird sanctuary, and the idea of 'somewhere else'. Most of our small islands off our coasts are designated as bird sanctuaries since many birds here nested in the ground rather than in trees. Hawaii had no endemic predatory mammals and so becomes a comment on the movement of species across the planet. The umbrella is a symbol for protection and is used symbolically in Buddhism. There are some Hawaiian symbols to the left of the ladder/stairs. These include taro or kalo plants which are the foundation starch of the ancient Hawaiian diet. They grow in water like rice with beautiful heart like leaves. The root has some similarities to the potato and sweet potato (a key starch in many areas of the Pacific). The tall sticks with socks (like wind indicators in aviation) are also from early engravings of the first voyages to Hawaii. They represent the god Lono - God of Peace. The flower looking spools in the middle right come from images of trees burnt after lava has flowed through an area. They stand like skeletons in the black wasteland. I think of the burnt areas of Greece and what is left of the olive and fruit orchards. There is a small dwelling on the left near the taro/kalo and some dwellings/structures on the right. I have been very interested in dwellings as a symbol both of protection and a center but also temporary dwellings can be those of nomadic tribes, early man, refugees, the leisure class on vacation, the homeless, or of an army at war. The grommets on the paper are another reference to tents and skins as well as the attachments to the inset island and small box/coffin. These came from the 'tie-down' image with the tents and from the masks of the Yupik in the Artic. These masks use feathers and sticks to attach important symbols around the main image. The snake comes from an early historical diagram of 'natives' disemboweling a snake tied to a tree. The cutting or opening up of images is often used in my work. The yellow strokes relate to the Virgin of Guadalupe and the way her image has been represented. The Virgin of Guadalupe was a vision by a 'native' man in Mexico of the Christian Mary and sparked the conversion of the Mexicans to Christianity. The snake has many close connections to religious beliefs and colonization. The yellow in the work is a pigment that I had dug up along a road while in Medellin, Colombia for an exhibition. The quality of the dirt and its origin add a further layer of meaning to the work. I have collected pigment from other places that are important to me." [Dorothy Faison 07/07/2007]

The art of Dorothy Faison is characterized by great personal meaning, compelling forms, and multiple layering. Standing between realism and abstraction, Faison moves with facility from multi - perspectivity to landscape depth and flatness within the same work. She also uses multiple imagery showing a discrepancy of scale and a disregard for homogeneity. Here, Faison responds to her experience of exotic cultures and refers to man's inner need to collect and label objects in order to access and perceive them. This work is part of her Things of Little Value series, which was sparked by an old botany text referring to the Bullock’s Heart (annona reticulata) as “although widely grown these fruits are of little value”. The interpretation of value is dependent upon where and how one is evaluating . Objects in the jars on the shelf include first a raccoon and then a variety of annona fruits, whose forms resemble human organs. The disembowelled snake, tied to a tree on the right, connects to native religious beliefs and colonization. The tall sticks on the left represent Lono, the Hawaiian god of peace. Her insert pictures at the work's lower part include the Whitney Museum on the left and the sacred Isla del Sol on Lake Titicaca in Bolivia on the right. The umbrella nearby is a symbol for protection. Some plant symbols of Hawaii appear on the left of stairs. Images of trees burnt by lava, stand like skeletons in wasteland. A dwelling on the left and similar structures on the right refer to man's peaceful presence. [Megakles Rogakos 07/07/2007]

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