Singed. Burned. Branded. These words are typically associated with harsh experiences that leave a permanent mark if they do not destroy that which is touched by an instrument hot enough to do so. It is astonishing to see these words appear in the description of art work that seems to embody soft, delicate touches in muted shades of brown. Paired with the cool, softness of blue watercolor and the gilding effect of silver leaf it is easy to feel lulled into contemplation about the subject of the art.
North Carolina artist Stacy Lynn Waddell’s The Evidence of Things Unseen featured at the Weatherspoon Art Museum is reportedly a part of an ongoing investigation for the artist regarding the conflict of African American heritage and personal identity, and how individuals come to think of themselves through the generations. Images of ships and women that seem to emerge from them are used to convey this to a large degree in many of the featured works. However, the striking medium used in these expressive investigational pieces adds a sense of lasting effect.
At a glance they appear soft, elegant works of dripping brown watercolor, but leaning in you can begin to see how the heat has marked the paper. The darker browns, almost black from the burning and branding are scars upon the paper. That this harsh method leaves its mark in beauty seems at odds with logical understanding, but add to communicate the emerging self that the artist also depicts in the images. Even the tools and material are a part of the artist’s investigation.
-Veronica Monique Ibarra