Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
African heritage show
Tanya Murphy Dodd's 84-piece exhibit, "Private Visions: Shadows of a Journey 2010," at Widener University is directed toward rediscovery of the African heritage, the depiction of the black experience in America.
A Philadelphian, Dodd goes about this quest by reaching into her family's past in rural South Carolina, and trying to reconnect with a disappearing legacy. The painter/photographer takes up the subject with an eye to blending together photography and painting techniques. (And she gives the advantage here, I'd say, to painting.)
Dodd intends to freight this mixed-media approach with as much meaning as it can take in subjects ranging from figures near dilapidated houses, old barns, passing shadowy figures, fields ripe for harvest, "one-room" churches, vestiges of a Southern plantation and references to ancestors, to the slave-ship era.
Her most effective technique among several is to place cutout relief figures onto the surface of the environmental photos she takes. She then uses acrylic paint and polymers to join the past with the present, generally keeping things shadowy.
Such an approach seems to represent the steady, unhedging voice of reason in assembling historic pictures. But beyond that, this handsome, rather mystical, yet modest work is presented like enduring footnotes that reinforce today's increasingly lively discourse about African American heritage.
By Victoria Donohoe
For The Inquirer