Reenactment: Portraying the Past
We are pleased to present artist Scott Cantrell in collaboration with LancasterHistory.
A percentage of all painting sales will go directly to the Museum during the month of July.
We all have our ways of accessing the past be it family photos, collecting memorabilia, reading biographies or visiting historic sites. Others of us keep diaries, plan annual family gatherings, or cook for the family in a tradition passed down from generation to generation. Each of us have different ways of connecting with the past, and our motivations for doing so are as diverse as our own memories.
My way of accessing the past is by painting and my motivations have shifted from confronting art history, to questioning how we access and understand the past, to even reconsidering personal photographs’ meaning to my own past. Yet in this most recent body of work, I became curious about historical reenactment. The idea of not only remembering by viewing an object, but actually experiencing history thru the acting out of the past has enthralled my imagination. I found reenactments, a living history, created a sensory experience of a past time. With that thought, I wanted to paint with the same purpose of feeling a part of history- an analogous feeling to reading Emerson’s Concord Hymn,
“By the rude bridge that arched the flood, Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled, Here once the embattled farmers stood And fired the shot heard round the world.
Spirit, that made those heroes dare To die, and leave their children free, Bid Time and Nature gently spare The shaft we raise to them and thee.”
Meaning my paintings are not biographical, but poetry, based on the attempt of thoughtfully understanding our history. This is not only what the work is meant to communicate but is also my purpose in making it. These paintings are evidence of my attempt to better understand our past in order to make sense of the present.
As I created this series, I realized painting like written history, constructs our understanding of the past; I recognized it can also lead to a collective sharing and solidarity of understanding our own history. This shared history allows the past to infuse the present with meaning and the future with potential. My hope is that these paintings of reenactments will allow us to engage with the past in a meaningful way during this challenging time in American history.
“The past is never dead, it’s not even past.” – William Faulkne
Scott Cantrell currently teaches drawing and painting at Lampeter-Strasburg High School. He earned his Masters in Art Education from Millersville University in 2007 and his Masters in Fine Arts from Vermont College of Fine Art in 2011. Since graduating with his MFA, Scott has exhibited in several juried shows throughout the country including the North American Graduate Art Survey in Minneapolis, the Boston Young Contemporaries in Boston, the Art of the State in the Harrisburg State Museum as well as Trompe L’oeil Juried Exhibition at the John F. Peto Studio Museum in Island Heights New Jersey. Most recently, he has been accepted to New American Paintings and was published in their Northeast region edition #146. Scott is also a member of the Echo Valley Art Group, a local artist collective of 25 members aimed to promoting the arts in Lancaster County.