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All contents copyright ©2009 Kathleen Jesse

 "Painting seems like an impossibility with only a sign now and then of its own light."
                                                                                                Philip Guston 1951
I used to be a person of interiors.  I remembered and evaluated places by what their museums had to offer.  But since coming to New Mexico I have found a home, a sense of place in the Manzano Mountains on the edge of a National Forest.  It is a borderland in constant flux; ordered on one hand by nature and on the other by mankind.   It is defined by a cultural matrix made up of unique families knitting together individual histories, mapping the terrain with differing notions of their sense of place.  It is a region where a shared history is not housed in a museum but where cultures struggle to hold onto their histories, define their present, and co-exist.
These paintings are the beginnings of my “American Pastoral” paintings.  They are autobiographical in that they are informed by my own sense of belonging to this land, its history and its continuance. The paintings picture acts of domestication, colonization, and cultural difference. There is nothing grand or epic about them; but, in imaging the daily occurrence of living in rural New Mexico, there resides an unintended glimpse of my own displaced white girl gaze that colors the retelling of the story, the defining of place, and the reading of history.
I paint because language is so difficult. It is slippery and limitless.  I am not capable of paring it down to a logical sequence or capable or finding its impossibilities.  I disappear in the possibilities of language and meaning. Take the possessive pronouns and adjectives, terms like “mine” or “our.”  They designate both ownership and inclusion. They seem to point to a continual process of claiming and reshaping. When does “the land” become “my/our land” and what does that mean exactly? What does that have to do with painting?  How could I or would I paint that?  It’s an impossibility.  Occasionally in my studio the paint, that maybe didn’t work out on my house, is beautiful on a canvas, it collides with an idea, is layered with my indecisiveness between making a drawing or making a painting, resolves itself into a new direction, and I begin again.
Kathleen Jesse