At a time when many artists are being called to depict some of the harshest realities our society is now living through, it can be difficult to find inspiration and hope among the resulting work. But, as always, some creatives have turned their eyes and skillsets toward the silver linings that shine through.
One example that very much addresses the unpleasant reality of the present, but with a hopeful bent to the future, is Marbles, an oil and charcoal piece by Lorenzo Swinton, currently on display at Clarksville’s DBO Gallery.
Marbles was the first piece in Swinton’s “Americana Series,” a study of race relations and police brutality in America. Like Marbles, the other works in the collection include bright coloring and featureless figures, but these also have identifiable scenes from historic civil rights moments, like the desegregation of public schools, or more literal depictions of police brutality and American militarism. Of the entire collection, Marbles may be the most allegorical piece, depicting not a historical moment or scene of action, but an uplifting interpretation of the innocence of children — two little girls of different races playing together, without prejudice or misconception.
“I was inspired to bring to the forefront particular perceptions and visuals of American history that were emotionally impactful, with the intent for viewers to contemplate on the many obstacles that were faced head on in the past, and to raise the question of how much progress has really been made throughout the decades,” Swinton explained to Art of Nashville. “I feel that Marbles opens up the conversation of racial biases as well as the suggestion that children are programmed to see race at an early age… Choosing marbles as the main focus was to bring an elevation of bold colors to the soft and harsh sfumato of the children, also to insinuate that in some irony ‘people have lost their marbles.'”
Swinton’s non-representative, softened technique lends itself inherently to the allegorical message behind the piece. It’s a powerful symbiosis that complements both his talent as an artist and the subject matter he hopes to tackle.
“He would say that the expressionism and influences from developing his paintings comes from personal, everyday life,” according to his artist statement. “As a result, Lorenzo continues to become more involved with the creation of abstract and contemporary paintings.”
For those who aren’t seeking an escape from the real world, but perhaps a new outlook on it, Marbles may offer the right perspective.
Swinton is originally from Winston-Salem, North Carolina and currently resides in Clarksville. He has been practicing art since he was six years old and his work has been displayed throughout Nashville and Clarksville.
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