On the whole, my art practice issues from a deep respect for the intersections of global, historical art and the cultures that inform it, and investigates the ways in which contemporary art can build upon and subvert our understandings of parameters of knowledge. In my recent series of drawings, prints, and paintings, “Family Traces: Centripetal Forces,” I engage with semiotic systems, combinatorics and the natural laws of physics. Through these fields of inquiry, I consider and interrogate cultural constructions of national identity and authenticity in both the fine and vernacular arts, and investigate how the interplay among these topics might create cultural meaning. All works in the series document the spontaneous marks made through American trick roping, held in tension against the tightly structured, geometric organizational systems into which they are placed.
In the “Crossed Paths” engraving series, I spin a rope coated with charcoal onto ten small, square copper plates laid in a circle on the floor, which I later engrave by imitating the pattern of dust residue - the traces - made through the act of roping. I then print the engravings and overlay them in a variety of configurations and orientations generated by a predetermined, combinatoric system yielding 6,400 possibilities.
By such means, I alter the original context (the vernacular art of trick roping) by placing it into a two-dimensional fine art system derived from Process art. I further envision the traces as metaphors for the centripetal forces that draw us toward the centers that define us. Since these artworks document a physical action and ephemeral event through an act of improvisation, they are in semiotic terms indexical images and might be seen as cultural ‘evidence’ tangentially addressing: first, American national identity through its association with the mythical status of the cowboy; and second, how cultures construct their own notions of authenticity.
Victoria Star Varner