K. Johnson Bowles

Johnson Bowles art for WP 2.18.20

A Little Bird Told Me (Victim Blaming), 2019, mixed media collage, 14 x 14 inches

Artist’s Statement:

This series explores the residual nature of physical and emotional trauma. The works represent flashes in the mind’s eye and suggest an untold drama of violation, loss, grief, pain, and shame. Each work is a collage using vintage handkerchiefs, photographs, and other materials. Inspiration includes Mexican retablos, religious shrines, Baroque art, 17th Century Dutch still life paintings, Voudou, and African power figures (nkisi) of Kongo tradition. The blurry color-saturated images of flowers symbolize what cannot be understood because the experience is too close. It expresses a sense of yearning to see what is beautiful but unattainable or no longer exists. It references the experience of closing one’s eyes and only seeing shapes and colors but nothing is concrete and three-dimensional. These are images focused on searching and “looking” for truth and healing amidst profound difficulty and dealing with what is “out of sight.” The images of hands are photographs of details from paintings displayed in museums. These details taken out of context suggest clues to a more complex narrative drama and beg the question, “what happened?” Each image conveys the fallibility of memory and the incompleteness or impossibility of total recall. The gestures represented convey the continuum of responses to trauma and their complexities such as prayer, anger, depression, fear, guilt, or shame.