In my opinion, there are endless possibilities of how a journey for a person or a people can be shown or conveyed to others. I especially love well done, woven journeys of stories in books and epics such as The Odyssey by Homer. So when I see a story that is simplified but well shown in art, I am deeply intrigued. I got this feeling from Emily Arthur’s gallery named Endangered.
Endangered is the story of a Native American woman’s journey through a dangerous yet threatened environment. It shows the idea of forced migration for a person showing how one clings to familiarity while being immersed in the different. For one thing, I absolutely love the contrasts of the background and the things in the foreground of the pieces. The backgrounds are always pale showing maps of the land and parts of the country along with the star maps, while the foreground keeps to familiar things like butterflies and songbirds. I really like how the landscape in the background always was changing yet the same things could be found by them. It gave that sense of having a guide with you in a rough time where you did not know where the end would be. I also loved the star maps and the use of things like the Ursa Major bear. I’ve always loved astronomy and have known that stars have been the compass for so many people in the past, and it acted like such for me. The colors used were great, and my favorites in her gallery were Black Water (with dark bird), Threatened (with Deception), and Blue Star Map of Home. All three of these pieces gave such a strong feeling of the uncertainty of the future, the feeling of being trapped, and the longing to go home all entwined in a single art piece. I would personally want Black Water (with dark bird) in my apartment as I feel I can relate to it.
Overall, the story told in these etchings and prints are the strongest when the feelings of the woman reach the audience as well. I cannot speak for anyone else in the audience, but I could certainly see this woman’s story unfold in these paintings. It’s the storytelling in this art that deeply inspires me.