The Land of Romance Series
My current body of work responds to images used in popular ephemera of the 1920s-1950s, including, among others, Norfolk and Western Railroad travel brochures promoting Virginia as “the land of romance, hospitality, and beauty”; Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix ads; and Maxwell House Coffee ads. The original, idealized images that these advertisements featured are challenged and expanded in the black and white woodblock prints. By changing facial expressions, inserting new characters, or modifying hand gestures, I question our assumptions about race and the sentimental tendencies of the print media I am appropriating. In some cases, new figures serve as a literal disruptive presence on top of the nostalgic original. In addition, this body of work includes collages which are a fusion of the original woodblock prints. New narrative possibilities are explored and questions raised, often with no clear answer or story. While this work is open to interpretation, my underlying criticism of the nostalgia for that era of our nation’s history is expressed in subtle, yet derisive, ways, often in the sarcasm of the titles that are partly or entirely borrowed from the original commercial sources.