Currently On View: VONN SUMNER’s “Wall”

19 Jan

vonn-sumner_wall_2017_casein-tempera-on-panel_16-x16-web

VONN SUMNER

Wall, casein and tempera on panel, 16″ x 16″

I’ve been using walls as a motif in my paintings for about 13 years, but I never thought of them as something sinister before this last year. Initially, walls were expedient for my pictorial and psychological purposes: they help define what we reveal and what we conceal; they become visual metaphors for the many mysteries that we carry.
 
Some walls are very beautiful-old brick walls in New York, brightly colored walls in Mexico and Guatemala, ancient walls in Rome-I have loved looking at all of these.I live in the Los Angeles area and there are many interesting walls between the street and buildings, with glimpses of trees sticking up, and I like imagining what is on the other side as I drive past. I love the walls in the backgrounds of paintings, especially those in early Sienese and Florentine Renaissance paintings. Most of the walls I have painted were based on my memory of a brick wall in the backyard of the house I grew up in. So my association with walls was personal and very positive.
But that has, of course, changed in the past year when talk of walls was suddenly and unexpectedly in the news. At first it sounded ridiculous, even humorous, as I did not really take it seriously. Then I was reminded that as long as we have been building walls, we have been using them to keep people on the other side of them-out of fear. I realize now that my romantic relationship to walls is a very privileged one. Now I am very sad that this wall idea, long a cliché, has become current once again. They are, of course, pointless in the end, merely symbolic-always begging to be toppled.
-VONN SUMNER, January 2017
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