It’s All Biography

This simple photo — of trees, of fall hues, a walk with family; it captures so much who I am, yet it’s so far from reach on the West Coast. As I create work in Seattle, and lament my sketchy knowledge of art history, I wonder how my imagery is connected to other artists, and how my influence is derived; my art genealogy, if you will.

But then, a trip home, to the Art Gallery of Ontario, and it all comes flooding back. Here are the Group of Seven artists I saw growing up, their rough sketches of the Canadian landscape still resonating in my brain.

Memories tumble together: walls and walls of warm hues, trees, and lakes, as if I’m back on a field trips with Mr. Lapp’s art class. The colors of every autumn growing up. Fierce pride in these Canadian artists. I soak up all the work on the walls in front of me, reliving my art past at the same time.

And traveling through the landscape of Ontario, in all its fall glory, cements the association. This is the landscape that is home to me. I live elsewhere, travel beyond that, searching for the familiar through my camera lens, and finding wonder. But what I find new and remarkable, others find familiar: it’s all in where we’re from. So as I work away, I fall back on what I know, adding trees, the horizon line, warm fall colors, and it all comes together, back to the biographical, the comforting. It’s all connected inside my head: this is my art, the landscape inside me, and it will keep spilling out as trees and horizons as I tell my story.

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