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Shawn Willima Creeden: Art at Belmont October 2011

“Ain’t hardly been in the saddle myself in a while. This horse is getting even with me for the sins of my youth. In my youth, before I met your dear departed ma, I used to be weak and given to mistreating animals. This horse and those hogs over there are getting even with me for the cruelty that I inflicted. I used to be able to cuss and whip a horse like this but your ma, rest her soul, showed me the error of my ways.”
- William Munny, Unforgiven

“Things separate from their stories have no meaning.”

- The Priest in Huisiachepic, The Crossing

Animals and landscape play prominent roles in the fiction of Cormac McCarthy, both symbolically and as characters in and of themselves. McCarthy’s novels are set in a variety of locales, predominantly in the southern and western United States and Mexico, in the mountains, in the forests, on the open plains. Horses, wolves, swine, buzzards, coyotes, crows, lizards, rodents, bats and more all coexist with the somber and hardened men and women of the frontier borderlands and the Appalachian backwoods. His characters live their brief lives slumped in a horse’s saddle or huddled around a meager fire scraped together from an indifferent landscape.

This new body of work uses the imagery and events within McCarthy’s books as a jumping off point to inform a personal exploration and interpretation of the complex historical relationships between humans, animals and the landscape of the American Frontier. I’m interested in the tools and strategies man has employed in our efforts to establish complete control over the natural world. All the while being at the mercy of a world which seems so inescapably predetermined, with a conclusion that is just as final for each of us as for all the living creatures with which we share this land. What animals do we as humans persecute and drive from the landscape as our territory grows and why? Which ones have been lucky enough to evolve with us and in fact help make this expansion possible?

Embroidery is a meditative activity for me. The pace and attention to detail gives me a new perspective and demands a longer consideration of a given subject than my relatively quick drawings (which speak more to a lifelong, severe attention deficit). It is an art form employed by both rich and poor, for both functional and decorative purposes, and is capable of stark simplicity and deep, rich intricacy. My sculptures represent a different facet of this same exploration. Forgotten relics, handcrafted and life-worn, with implied though often unknowable histories. These objects become proxies upon which we project our understanding of this bygone era.

This exhibition will provide an in-progress view of this new body of work.

An artist reception and talk will be held on Tuesday the 11th of October, from 6-8pm.