Archive for December 9th, 2014

GC Myers- Family Lines smDuring the openings for most of my shows, such as this past week’s opening at the Kada Gallery,   I inevitably get a number of questions about the meaning of the Red Chair especially when it’s suspended in a tree such as in the painting shown here from the show, Family Lines.  The empty chair itself is a simple and powerful symbol in many cultures of past ancestors or someone who is absent.  I have personally attached the concept of one’s own inner memory to it as well, seeing the chair as a distinct memory or myself in the narrative of that memory.  It is not always the same thing in each different circumstance.

But how it came to be aloft in the tree is a story that began when I was a kid.  I’ve told it innumerable times over the years but here it is:

Wilawana Road BarnGrowing up, we lived in the country in an isolated old farmhouse with an old barn across the road.  I happened to drive by the old place yesterday and snapped this photo of the old barn, now in a much more advanced stage of decay than when I was running around there.  It was pretty solid and complete at that earlier time.   In front of the barn, to the left of it here and out of the shot, is a large and old stone chimney, all that remains from the home of an early settler to the area, a stage coach driver who was killed there in an Indian raid in the late 18th century.  A small cemetery with old slate stones was nestled in the edge of the forest nearby. For a kid, it was a place filled with memory, a great place to play and let your imagination run wild.

One summer when I was 8 or 9 years old,  I came across a dead woodchuck laying next to the barn.  I don’t know how he died– he was just there.  Dead.  As the summer progressed and he dried out, a vine passed through his body and by summer’s end was suspended a couple of feet in the air.  To the eyes of a child this was something magical.  I was struck by the power of the earth to reclaim its creatures.  Everything seemed very ephemeral after that…

The idea of a tree growing through an object such as a chair, which is very representative of human existence, is a continuation of that early fascination.  It wasn’t until I had painted several pieces with the hanging chair that I began to also see the symbolism of the empty chair, which in some cultures represents the recently deceased.  That is what I see now– the family members who have passed on.  Again, this is my interpretation of this work.  I enjoy hearing what other people see in the work because many times it’s completely different from what I see but just as valid.  I often look at some pieces in a whole new light after hearing a new view.

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