Ghosts of the past exposed


In 2013 I received funding to travel from the United States to Scotland for six months to create a series of new works that combined genealogy, poetry and painting. I see these paintings as giant pages from a weathered picture book of my family’s past. The hero of this particular story is Murdoch Campbell, my great great great grandfather born in Scotland in 1784. Murdoch comes to the United States as a Scottish man and dies as an Arkansas farmer. I am then born in Arkansas one hundred and twenty years later, not knowing that I would return to Scotland to make art for his ghost.

The silhouettes of my ancestors float across the painted page, as tea and coffee stains the background. The blue represents water, air and dreams. The map lines connect the figures to their homeland and to each other as memories of the past and present haunt and comfort them. A type of poetry bridges the gaps and tells their stories real and imagined.

This is my story and theirs but it is also yours and ours…

Remain a stranger

Mixed media on paper 30x22"

© 2013 Megan Chapman

"You are of the land you left behind you built the land that will remain a stranger"

Faces of the forgotten

Mixed media on paper 30x22"

© 2013 Megan Chapman

"You see the faces of the forgotten and lost as shadows dance around your children"

Old familiar words

Mixed media on paper 30x22"

© 2013 Megan Chapman

"You can’t make them say the old familiar words their mouths move in different ways"

Too much space

Mixed media on paper 30x22"

© 2013 Megan Chapman

"There is too much space here

and always of the wrong kind"

Stacked and strong

Mixed media on paper 30x22"

© 2013 Megan Chapman

"Stacked and strong like mountains your children are from someplace new"

Voices

Mixed media on paper 30x22"

© 2013 Megan Chapman

"You took comfort in the voices but not in the new dirt or the trees"

New address

Mixed media on paper 30x22"

© 2013 Megan Chapman

 "Songs from home, assorted tools and the new address of a stranger"

Farmers, fighters, fiddlers and drinkers

Mixed media on paper 30x22"

© 2013 Megan Chapman

"Farmers, fighters, fiddlers and drinkers"

The clover

Mixed media on paper 30x22"

© 2013 Megan Chapman

"Forever to remain landlocked in the clover far from the sea"

A month on the sea

Mixed media on paper 30x22"

© 2013 Megan Chapman

"You told them stories of a month on the sea a three legged pot brought from home and of stacks of stones"

Dirty hands and cracked skin

Mixed media on paper 30x22"

© 2013 Megan Chapman

"You made a family of dirty hands and cracked skin under this new hot sun"

With light in your pocket

Mixed media on paper 30x22"

© 2013 Megan Chapman

"You travelled with light in your pocket and collected the clouds for later"

Away in the hills

Mixed media on paper 30x22"

© 2013 Megan Chapman

"What came before you is safely tucked away in the hills"

In the fields

Mixed media on paper 30x22"

© 2013 Megan Chapman

"You took her hand from east to west memories of home sown in the fields"

One last time

Mixed media on paper 30x22"

© 2013 Megan Chapman 

sold

"You looked behind one last time and waved to no one across the sea"

Tied and tethered

Mixed media on paper 30x22"

© 2013 Megan Chapman

"Your memories come in bundles tied and tethered to the past"

He spoke like your father

Mixed media on paper 30x22"

© 2013 Megan Chapman

"You noticed that he spoke like your father and that was enough"

When you tilt your head

Mixed media on paper 30x22"

© 2013 Megan Chapman

"Sometimes when you tilt your head and squint your eyes you can still sense home"

This landlocked state

Mixed media on paper 30x22"

© 2013 Megan Chapman

"You sensed their dreams in this landlocked state each night as the water returned"

Gunpowder air and worn boots

Mixed media on paper 30x22"

© 2013 Megan Chapman

"You are the soil of the southern states gunpowder air and worn boots"

Copyright 2009 -2014 Megan Chapman All rights reserved

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