a squirrel from memory is an ongoing studio project comprised of two divergent image-making processes that explore concepts of home and the pressure to possess a singular voice or vision within a creative practice. This project was born out of the decision to work with increasingly personal and localized imagery while tending to a creative practice as a collaborative activity. Since 2019 douglas has been working primarily from cell phone photos supplied to him by his immediate family in an ongoing group text. His mom, dad, and brother, in keeping he up to date on what is going on in their lives, share the things they do and see near his childhood home in Louisiana.
A significant portion of this project consists of small works on paper: literal, time-intensive translations of photographic images, mostly of landscapes and animals found in the southeastern United States. With these drawings douglas holds onto very familiar and traditional expectations of the hand drawn or painted art object: Is it well crafted? Was it labored over and difficult to make? Does it make for a good and convincing representation of something recognizable? His hope is that these drawings reverently and surprisingly indulge some of these expectations.
As a foil to the drawings, his paintings are crafted entirely from memory and approached in a fast paced and painterly way. He is particularly interested in how the paintings undo the drawings of photographic source material and he is thinking about how these disparate modes of inquiry might posit the center of his practice somewhere between the paintings and the drawings. When it comes to the paintings, douglas often explores new materials and processes and frequently find himself bumping into the edges of his own facility with a particular material or process. More often than not, this imbues the paintings with a notable degree of awkwardness and points to his interest in skilled labor and hard work. He is fascinated by the fetishization of skilled labor and hard work in art and cannot help but wonder why so many of us want to look at something that we ourselves could not make.
His studio practice, as alluded to above, holds the idea of style up for examination. Style, and the many different ways we might define or map it; it is intriguing for him and something he have made a point to avoid possessing. Style is both a wholesome pursuit of one’s own voice and a questionable pursuit of visual consistency and, in the end, effective branding. It aims to make sense of creative output and development, but through the imposition of language and the establishment of clear boundaries or strictures for the creative process. Ultimately, a squirrel from memory is about resisting these pressures and engaging with complexity and multiplicity within a studio practice.
For his exhibition at Proyecto T, douglas intends to exhibit a salon-style grouping of approximately eight framed works on paper in the stairwell leading up to the gallery and fifteen paintings in the gallery space itself. Given the architecture of the space, six paintings will be installed on the longest, uninterrupted wall with the remaining nine paintings split evenly across the three smaller walls.