American Paradise

A View of the Catskill Mountain House/ Copied from a picture by S. Cole copied from a picture by T. Cole/ 1848 is a trompe l’oeil painting that is part of American Paradise, a new project that reframes the history of the Hudson River School to give visibility to the many women affiliated with this iconic movement historically associated with men.

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My current project, American Paradise, reframes the history of the Hudson River School to give visibility to the many women affiliated with this iconic movement historically associated with men. The title of this project–invoked critically–takes its name from American Paradise: The World of the Hudson River School, an exhibition catalog published in 1987 by the Metropolitan Museum of Art that perpetuates the mythology of the Hudson River School as being founded by, and exclusively comprised of, men. In fact, as early as 1818—seven years before its ostensible founding in 1825—women were painting scenes of the Catskills and beyond in styles ascribed to the movement’s “founding fathers,” Asher Durand and Thomas Cole. The only true corrective to this false history and the Met’s 345-page tome is Remember the Ladies, an exhibition booklet published in 2010 by the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, stapled instead of bound, and 33 pages in total.

One part of American Paradise is a series of works that refer to paintings created by Sarah Cole, Louisa Davis Minot, and several other women who hiked and painted alongside—and often apart from—the men affiliated with this movement. Executed in the tradition of copying exemplary paintings, my paintings, in the form of “unfinished” copies, seek to give value and visibility to works created by these women that have been undervalued, under-recognized, and in many cases, lost.

A View of the Catskill Mountain House/ Copied from a picture by S. Cole copied from a picture by T. Cole/ 1848 references an 1848 painting by Sarah Cole that was copied from a painting by Thomas Cole, her brother. Like his original painting on canvas, Sarah Cole’s painting is around 15 x 23 inches. In keeping with this and the tradition of copying, my painting is a similar size and facture as its two precedents. However, in my version, the copy is in process and is being painted from what looks like a clipped image of the original taped to the upper right corner of the canvas. In fact, this “source material”–the ostensible reference for the “unfinished” painting–is painted in trompe l’oeil, making it the “true copy” of Sarah Cole’s original painting. Together, the two approaches in the painting simultaneously point to invisibility, and call into question the tradition of copying, which historically functioned as both a learning process and a process of homage. Both attribute an inherent value to the original as worthy of being copied and disseminated and more significant than the hand and voice of the artist-copier. Ultimately, this painting and the other works in the series make visible the act of historical recovery and acknowledge that act as one that is always in-progress and never finished.

A View of the Catskill Mountain House/ Copied from a picture by S. Cole copied from a picture by T. Cole/ 1848
2020
Oil and graphite on canvas
15 3/8 x 23 7/16 inches
Photo: Etienne Frossard
Photo: Etienne Frossard
Photo: Etienne Frossard
Installation view from ID: Formations of the Self, Shirley Fiterman Art Center at BMCC, New York, NY, September 16, 2020 – January 15, 2021.
Installation view from ID: Formations of the Self, Shirley Fiterman Art Center at BMCC, New York, NY, September 16, 2020 – January 15, 2021.
Installation view through window at Park Place. Photo: Etienne Frossard.
A View of the Catskill Mountain House/ Copied from a picture by S. Cole copied from a picture by T. Cole/ 1848
2020
Oil and graphite on canvas
15 3/8 x 23 7/16 inches
Photo: Etienne Frossard
Photo: Etienne Frossard
Photo: Etienne Frossard
Installation view from ID: Formations of the Self, Shirley Fiterman Art Center at BMCC, New York, NY, September 16, 2020 – January 15, 2021.
Installation view from ID: Formations of the Self, Shirley Fiterman Art Center at BMCC, New York, NY, September 16, 2020 – January 15, 2021.
Installation view through window at Park Place. Photo: Etienne Frossard.

American Paradise

A View of the Catskill Mountain House/ Copied from a picture by S. Cole copied from a picture by T. Cole/ 1848 is a trompe l’oeil painting that is part of American Paradise, a new project that reframes the history of the Hudson River School to give visibility to the many women affiliated with this iconic movement historically associated with men.

Read More

My current project, American Paradise, reframes the history of the Hudson River School to give visibility to the many women affiliated with this iconic movement historically associated with men. The title of this project–invoked critically–takes its name from American Paradise: The World of the Hudson River School, an exhibition catalog published in 1987 by the Metropolitan Museum of Art that perpetuates the mythology of the Hudson River School as being founded by, and exclusively comprised of, men. In fact, as early as 1818—seven years before its ostensible founding in 1825—women were painting scenes of the Catskills and beyond in styles ascribed to the movement’s “founding fathers,” Asher Durand and Thomas Cole. The only true corrective to this false history and the Met’s 345-page tome is Remember the Ladies, an exhibition booklet published in 2010 by the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, stapled instead of bound, and 33 pages in total.

One part of American Paradise is a series of works that refer to paintings created by Sarah Cole, Louisa Davis Minot, and several other women who hiked and painted alongside—and often apart from—the men affiliated with this movement. Executed in the tradition of copying exemplary paintings, my paintings, in the form of “unfinished” copies, seek to give value and visibility to works created by these women that have been undervalued, under-recognized, and in many cases, lost.

A View of the Catskill Mountain House/ Copied from a picture by S. Cole copied from a picture by T. Cole/ 1848 references an 1848 painting by Sarah Cole that was copied from a painting by Thomas Cole, her brother. Like his original painting on canvas, Sarah Cole’s painting is around 15 x 23 inches. In keeping with this and the tradition of copying, my painting is a similar size and facture as its two precedents. However, in my version, the copy is in process and is being painted from what looks like a clipped image of the original taped to the upper right corner of the canvas. In fact, this “source material”–the ostensible reference for the “unfinished” painting–is painted in trompe l’oeil, making it the “true copy” of Sarah Cole’s original painting. Together, the two approaches in the painting simultaneously point to invisibility, and call into question the tradition of copying, which historically functioned as both a learning process and a process of homage. Both attribute an inherent value to the original as worthy of being copied and disseminated and more significant than the hand and voice of the artist-copier. Ultimately, this painting and the other works in the series make visible the act of historical recovery and acknowledge that act as one that is always in-progress and never finished.