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a non-profit gallery for the visual and performing arts

Temporary adddress:
2101 Maywill St., Richmond, VA 23230
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August 25 - September 17, 2017

Deborah Bryan – "From Here"

Drawings of East Tennessee
Helena Davis Gallery

Opening Reception for the Artists
Fourth Friday, August 25, 2017
7:00-10:00 pm
Free and Open to the Public

Closing Artist Talk
Sunday, September 17, 2017
2:00 pm
Free and Open to the Public

Artist Statement

In my printmaking, photography, and drawing, I work in black and white. This forces me to focus on the basic design elements of value and contrast, shape, line, and especially texture. The drawings in this exhibition were at first derived from photographs I had taken of less than pristine structures in the area surrounding my home, mostly in Greene, Carter, and Johnson Counties in Eastern Tennessee. I was not trying to showcase the decay of Appalachia; rather, I simply was intrigued by textures and shapes of structures that were in a slow, almost natural state of decay, and especially by the doors and windows. As these structures gave in to gravity, they did not seem to become less attractive, but more interesting.

I found that if I worked from a small cropped portion of the original image, then removed the original photograph once the relationships between basic elements were blocked in and the perspective was correct, the drawing had a chance to exist as a work separate from the photograph, and often much more abstracted than the photograph. By using graphite and graphite powder on Arches Hot Press Watercolor paper, I could work both additively, building up the drawing with more graphite, and subtractively, using various erasers as tools to create an image by removing graphite.

I usually had to take a very patient approach. For instance Greeneville, Tennessee: Wall, Sky, Shadow contains over 1400 individual bricks, and each one had to be drawn as a separate object, different from the rest. Many of the drawings contain long passages of flaking or blistering paint, and those areas needed to be convincing as individual areas but also fit into the overall varying pattern of decay. I would often become despondent about a quarter of the way into a drawing, wondering just what I had gotten myself into. But I had learned persistence and patience as a printmaker, and found that if I simply pressed on, the image began to emerge from the paper, raising hope that I could actually finish the whole. Sadly, some of the structures that I have depicted since this project began in 2013 are now gone. And so the drawings seem like a kind of memorial.

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Page Updated July 22, 2017