"The installation of Whitewash paintings at MAP brings together four large-scale works that mark the inception of this series and the artists’ first deployment of their signature layering of sheer silk over oil paintings. These pivotal works examine the history of race in America through the poignant depiction of social injustice during the civil rights era. The crime scene photographs of the Audubon Ballroom following the assassination of Malcolm X, which depict an empty space but for the folding chairs left upturned as a terrified audience fled, provided the artists with their initial inspiration as they envisioned a public memorial to the slain civil rights leader. In one of the paintings, the artists combine two images of the funeral home where Malcolm X’s body lay on view under the watchful eye of police. The artists’ unique combination of painterly and photographic processes stems from the concept of ‘whitewashing’ as a strategy for covering up or beautifying the truth. Working with images painted on linen and then covered with a layer of sheer silk with a print of the same image, the artists create paintings with an almost holographic effect. In this phase of the series, the artists only partially covered the painted works with silk, thus both revealing and obscuring selections of the overall painted surface. This physical layering likewise stands as a metaphor for the subjectivity of memory and conjures an interpretive space between the painting and the printed image, a configuration that shifts according to the viewer’s position relative to the painting. The painted and printed images converge to create an ambiguous spatial dimension in which to explore the at times incompatible relationship between historical records and memory."
"Whitewash." In Bearing Witness: Work by Bradley McCallum & Jacqueline Tarry, edited by Jennie Hirsh, 59. Baltimore, MD: Maryland Institute College of Art, 2010.
To view or download the entire exhibition catalogue from Bearing Witness: Work by Bradley McCallum & Jacqueline Tarry with descriptions of each work as well as a critical essay, please visit the Featured page.