21 Dec Bifurcation and Gainsborough
I met with Reverend Thomas Brown at the rectory of St Michael’s Episcopal Church yesterday afternoon, where I made his portrait sketch. Even with the snow already coming down, we proceeded as planned. We spoke at great length about several topics that I have brewing for the Art of Action proposal. I actually brought one preliminary drawing to show him which I felt presented the greatest challenge for viewers regarding my goal in portraying a convincing and impacting/impactful content.
I had been dreaming for weeks about the delight I would take in contrasting his brilliant white cleric collar against a jet-black shirt. I chose to conceive the portrait on a cerulean blue paper ground; perhaps I was inspired to give the drawing a slight Gainsborough affect. Essentially, working entirely in charcoal, I brought in some lavender chalk to carve out the space behind the head, and to bring gentle flickers of light into the corners of his eyes and lips. I did, however, brush in a sweep of white paint to animate the collar. The rich black, bold blue, lavender, and white achieved a very satisfying combination.
We talked a lot about the bifurcation of class in Vermont, and how it is an experience that is particularly felt in the state, given its small scale and intimacy that make tensions even more prominent. Ultimately, we discussed how access to education points to the ways that our actions in this state form our identities. It appears that the class division is made up largely between natives and flatlanders. Flatlanders are folks who often make a distinctive choice to move their lives to Vermont, willingly removing themselves form the clutter and pressure of a material world, for which they forfeit higher incomes to pursue a more “pure and enlightened” lifestyle. On the other hand, native residents who may not have had the privilege of pursuing a diverse education (to cite only one example) do not have the luxury of choice about where they wish to live, and are stuck simply trying to make basic needs met. We revisited the controversy of Honora vineyard in Halifax as an example of how wealth does not equal pure values of bucolic lifestyle, and for many families there is a huge difference between buying milk from Hannafords and Walmart and between putting gas in the car.
Though according to Cynthia , the receptionist at St. Michael’s Episcopal in Vermont, “Nature is like a church.” Perhaps, then, the split between new and old Vermonters is merely technical, and we all agree and all love the “sylvan pastoral” and “burdocky fields” that characterize the state.