No Object, No Story

No Object, No Story is a painting that uses the genre of still life painting and its focus on quotidian domestic objects as a lens through which to explore issues related to invisibility, gender, and class while speaking to the evanescence of objects as they relate to memory and history.

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This painting was created specifically for HOME/WORK, an exhibition at JDJ | The Ice House that looks at the complicated relationship between work and personal life and the invisible labor we perform in our domestic lives. The exhibition was inspired in part by the history of The Ice House, a former ice house situated within a compound of buildings built in the early 1900’s that were originally used as the service quarters for an estate on the Hudson River.

The title for No Object, No Story comes from a lecture given by the French feminist Françoise Vergès during which she used those words to discuss the invisibility of labor as it relates to class and gender. Given that The Ice House and the other nearby outbuildings were built out of sight from the estate they were built to serve and that the inhabitants utilized the land and buildings to perform their work duties while living their lives, I was thinking a lot about Vergès’ words over the course of my research.

With No Object, No Story I wanted to address not only the site’s varied history as a private residence, an inn, and two different dude ranches (Manitou Ranch and Walter Ranch), but also the relationship between work, labor, domestic life, and leisure. In the woods behind The Ice House, I unearthed deteriorating objects that, like the laborers who lived and worked out of sight from the occupants of the estate, have been long hidden from view.

Within the painting, notions of invisibility, labor, leisure, and domestic life exist on many levels. The found objects that comprise the still life (beer cans, a mug, a rusty bucket, the rusty cannister, old bottles, a creamer) along with some research materials (a postcard from Manitou Ranch and a photo of Walter Ranch) and photographs I took of flowers in the garden, symbolize the range of activities related to both labor and leisure that took place on the land over the last century. When I first discovered these objects in the woods, the idea of making an in-progress still life painting came to mind. Historically, still life painting was a lower genre of painting that was available to women and others who were excluded from the academy and from painting the nude figure. By using the genre of still life painting and its focus on quotidian domestic objects as a lens through which to view the objects I found, No Object, No Story further highlights issues related to invisibility, gender, and class. The unfinished portion of the painting not only points to the obvious labor involved in painting but also amplifies the invisibility of the labor inherent in the painting of the source photo. Finally, painted with varying degrees of clarity and presence, the objects depicted across the painting speak to the evanescence of objects in general as they relate to memory and history.

No Object, No Story
2019
Oil and pencil on linen
18 x 29 inches
No Object, No Story
2019
Oil and pencil on linen
18 x 29 inches
No Object, No Story
2019
Oil and pencil on linen
18 x 29 inches
No Object, No Story
2019
Oil and pencil on linen
18 x 29 inches

No Object, No Story

No Object, No Story is a painting that uses the genre of still life painting and its focus on quotidian domestic objects as a lens through which to explore issues related to invisibility, gender, and class while speaking to the evanescence of objects as they relate to memory and history.

Read More

This painting was created specifically for HOME/WORK, an exhibition at JDJ | The Ice House that looks at the complicated relationship between work and personal life and the invisible labor we perform in our domestic lives. The exhibition was inspired in part by the history of The Ice House, a former ice house situated within a compound of buildings built in the early 1900’s that were originally used as the service quarters for an estate on the Hudson River.

The title for No Object, No Story comes from a lecture given by the French feminist Françoise Vergès during which she used those words to discuss the invisibility of labor as it relates to class and gender. Given that The Ice House and the other nearby outbuildings were built out of sight from the estate they were built to serve and that the inhabitants utilized the land and buildings to perform their work duties while living their lives, I was thinking a lot about Vergès’ words over the course of my research.

With No Object, No Story I wanted to address not only the site’s varied history as a private residence, an inn, and two different dude ranches (Manitou Ranch and Walter Ranch), but also the relationship between work, labor, domestic life, and leisure. In the woods behind The Ice House, I unearthed deteriorating objects that, like the laborers who lived and worked out of sight from the occupants of the estate, have been long hidden from view.

Within the painting, notions of invisibility, labor, leisure, and domestic life exist on many levels. The found objects that comprise the still life (beer cans, a mug, a rusty bucket, the rusty cannister, old bottles, a creamer) along with some research materials (a postcard from Manitou Ranch and a photo of Walter Ranch) and photographs I took of flowers in the garden, symbolize the range of activities related to both labor and leisure that took place on the land over the last century. When I first discovered these objects in the woods, the idea of making an in-progress still life painting came to mind. Historically, still life painting was a lower genre of painting that was available to women and others who were excluded from the academy and from painting the nude figure. By using the genre of still life painting and its focus on quotidian domestic objects as a lens through which to view the objects I found, No Object, No Story further highlights issues related to invisibility, gender, and class. The unfinished portion of the painting not only points to the obvious labor involved in painting but also amplifies the invisibility of the labor inherent in the painting of the source photo. Finally, painted with varying degrees of clarity and presence, the objects depicted across the painting speak to the evanescence of objects in general as they relate to memory and history.