Saturday, March 17, 2012

new assemblage: Southern Gothic (Flannery O'Connor)

Kym Hepworth / Southern Gothic (Flannery O'Connor) / 2012 / mixed media / 35 3/4 x 20 5/8 x 4 3/8"
© 2012 - Kym Hepworth. All Rights Reserved. All photographs by Robin Miller.

"Question: Miss O'Connor, you said yesterday that the South was Christ-haunted instead of Christ-centered. I don't quite understand this and how it effects our Southern literature. Would you please explain this?

O'Connor: I shouldn't have said that, should I? Well, as I said, the South didn't seem to me as a writer to be Christ-centered. I don't think anyone would object to that at all. I think all you would have to do is to read the newspapers to agree with me, but I said that we seemed to me to be Christ-haunted and that ghosts cast strange shadows, very fierce shadows, particularly in our literature. It is hard to explain a flat statement like that. I would hate to talk off the top of my head on a subject like that. I think it is a subject that a book could be written about but it would take me ten or twelve years to do it."
(italics mine. source for quote: Conversations with Flannery O'Connor, edited by Rosemary M. Magee, published by University Press of Mississippi, Jackson, MS ©1987)


Southern Gothic (Flannery O'Connor) was made for a two-person show, Fact and Fantasy: Beaded Narratives by Nancy Hooten and Kym Hepworth at Indigo Sky Community Gallery. Tania Sammons, curator of the Owens-Thomas House and Decorative Arts at the Telfair Museum of Art, is the guest curator of the exhibit. Tania asked Nancy Hooten and me to each create a work inspired by the author Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964). 

detail, Southern Gothic (Flannery O'Connor) / 2012 / mixed media
Detail showing a 19th century tintype of a woman holding an open book.

For my assemblage, I decided to focus on Flannery O'Connor's connection to Savannah. O'Connor was born in Savannah on March 25, 1925 and lived here until 1938. (The Flannery O'Connor Childhood Home is located at 207 East Charlton Street and is one of the few museum houses in the South that is restored to the depression era.) 

detail, Southern Gothic (Flannery O'Connor) / 2012 / mixed media
I sewed together multiple photo transfer images of a house taken from a found photograph. On the top, left corner, someone had written in pencil "where I was born". This is the only panel on the backing board with abbreviated text.

Flannery O'Connor lived most of her life in Milledgeville, GA and was a devout Catholic. She wrote about the South and a central theme in her work is faith, revelation and redemption.

detail, Southern Gothic (Flannery O'Connor) / 2012 / mixed media

detail, Southern Gothic (Flannery O'Connor) / 2012 / mixed media
Detail showing Virgin Mary religious medallion and four-leaf clover. The four-leaf clover refers to Flannery O'Connor's Irish roots. "In Irish tradition the Shamrock or 3-leaf Clover represents the Holy Trinity: one leaf for the Father, one for the Son and one for the Holy Spirit. When a Shamrock is found with the fourth leaf, it represents God's Grace."  (source)

I wanted my assemblage to reflect what was important in O'Connor's life and writing - the South and religion -and to highlight O'Connor's use of dark, macabre, grotesque imagery. 

detail, Southern Gothic (Flannery O'Connor) / 2012 / mixed media
Detail showing a detached, hanging doll arm and a Civil War bullet. My references to the Civil War are extremely understated and include the bullet, blue and gray beadwork, and four Lincoln pennies.

Southern Gothic (Flannery O'Connor) is about being tied to a place and haunted by the past. Through my imagery, I've evoked the ideas of ancestral roots, family trees, home, and inheritance.

detail, Southern Gothic (Flannery O'Connor) / 2012 / mixed media
Detail of roots growing from of the bottom of the memory dress.

detail, Southern Gothic (Flannery O'Connor) / 2012 / mixed media
Detail showing abandoned/haunted house with treeline behind it.

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