Sarah McRae Morton
“Painting on Horseback”
Over the dining table in a home in Southern England hangs a rendition of Velazques’
Las Meninas. The home was built on the fortunes of graphite mining and its trove of paintings was acquired from afar by a man deemed an “outlaw”. The heir to the Bankes’ family graphite mining fortune lived in exile in southern Europe.
At the time the Velazques was bought by William Bankes, a branch of his family, in a knotted ancestral tree with far flung apples, was living in Appalachia at the mouths of the coal mines.
This suite of work is about the course of a family over a few hundred years, their bouts of tragedy gusts of curiosity, and the reoccurring arrival in front of the painting “Las Meninas” by Velazques.
As there is an optimal viewing distance for every painting, it seems true of history too. Perspective clarifies some facts and can obscure what we wish not to see. It’s a metaphor
I elude to by rendering some detail finely while blurring other passages within the same frame.
These paintings are maps of retraced steps, records of the roads taken to try to capture images of people long gone. They are invented and borrowed portraits of the shells of tenacious spirits who have survived because their stories are transmitted around campfires, between rocking chairs, and under moth eaten black skies. They had memorable lives or unforgettable brushes with death and left enough legacy, artifacts or genetic residue for me to retell their stories.