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Work Samples

once it was this

This is a charcoal drawing in stop-motion animation--a technique pirated from William Kentridge--I made to accompany a poem I wrote. In it, my mother and four of her five sisters gather for a photograph in our back yard at a family reunion in the summer of 1957. Sooner or later each of the sisters, and my mother, developed Alzheimer's Disease; they walk out of the picture in the same order as that in which they departed what we think of as reality.

where the Southern cross the Dog

“I’m goin’ where the Southern cross the Dog” is a line from an old lost railroad blues song W.C.Handy overheard while waiting for a train in a deserted station in Tutweiler Mississippi, where the Yazoo Delta Railway, known locally as the Yellow Dog, crossed the Southern. This piece was the heart of a gallery installation that combined assemblage with paintings of the sharecroppers and bluesmen of the 1930’s South.

Monday Mornin' Blues

This drawing is 102” x 143”, done in charcoal and collage on separate sheets of paper which were suspended using steel rods and C-clamps. It is based on three photographs taken in Georgia and North Carolina in the 1880's and '90s by J.J. Kirkbride, Carl Weis, and a third unknown photographer. These men were six of the tens of thousands of African American men who were subjected to a new form of slavery: the incarceration and servitude of innocent men that was put into practice after Reconstruction. The chains are real, taken straight from the photographs. The men are real, too.

Sunday Afternoon

"Sunday Afternoon". This painting is 54" x 42", oil and charcoal on canvas; it's based on a photograph Jack Delano took for the Farm Security Administration in 1941 in Heard County, Georgia. I've kept this painting in my personal collection; it makes me happy to look at these people.


About Nancy

Baltimore City - Station North A&E District

Nancy Linden's picture
Nancy Linden creates figurative work in a variety of media, primarily oil and charcoal, largely based on photographs taken during the ’30’s and ’40’s by the brilliant photographers of the Farm Security Administration.  She also works with assemblage and site-specific installation, creating environments which spill into the realm of theater to include set design and the devising and writing of theater pieces, which in turn relates to her poetry and the essays that often accompany her art... more

black and white work

These are large charcoal drawings; large in scale, if not always so in dimensions.  Most are roughly life-size. Many incorporate tarpaper, newsprint, canvas or other media/materials. Some are made directly from a model, some based on a photograph or multiple photographs.

  • Candy Man: Mississippi John Hurt

    50" x 38", charcoal on paper. Mississippi John Hurt was a Delta bluesman and sharecropper from Avalon Mississippi. He made a few recordings in 1928, but they were not commercially successful. He stopped playing for the most part and continued to sharecrop. In 1963 Dick Spottswood heard those old recordings and, with Tom Hoskins, tracked him down in Avalon and brought him to Washington DC. This time he caught the folk music wave of the 1960’s and became one of the most popular and influential bluesmen of all time.
  • timeline

    Charcoal and pastel on paper, tarpaper and wall. Some of the lines and head-shapes are drawn with wire. The dimensions vary with the installation, but are roughly 60" x 120". This was the title piece in an installation several years ago in which I attempted to conflate time, line and memory. The installation consisted of large charcoal drawings interconnected throughout the gallery with wire, tubing, rope, rebar and drawn line.
  • Jimi

    charcoal, black&white
    A few years ago I spoke with Woody Curry, director of The Baltimore Station, about the possibility of making drawings of the residents there. I wrongly assumed that it was a homeless shelter; Woody explained that it was a residence program for treating substance abuse, approaching treatment not only from the physical aspect but also the mental and spiritual. I don’t remember our discussion, but by the time I left his office I had volunteered to provide an art program for the men.
  • Slow Time

    Charcoal on paper, approximately 54" x 36". I made this drawing from a model, who was not a prisoner but a friend. My friend died in December 2019, just prior to Covid, or maybe one of its first victims. The drawing no longer exists, as such; I continued to work on it until it had lost something. One of the hardest parts of this is knowing when to stop.
  • Been Born Quite a While

    Charcoal on paper, approximately 32" x 24". This drawing was based on a photograph of a farmer/musician who played in a brass band in Hale County Alabama. The title is taken from the book "Been Here and Gone" by Frederic Ramsey; he quoted Stormy Williams, trombonist in a small country band: "I've been born quite a while, but I'm here yet."
  • where the Southern cross the Dog

    Approximately 74” x 86", done in charcoal, gesso, and pastel on paper. These gentlemen recur in my work with some frequency. They are based on two photographs from the Farm Security Administration. During the 1930’s and ‘40’s the FSA sent photographers the caliber of Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange and Russell Lee across the country to document rural poverty, resulting in an enormous stockpile of brilliant photographs which are in the public domain; much of my work is based on these images.
  • End of Day

    This drawing is 34" x 29", done in charcoal and pastel on handmade paper which I made in my studio by rather primitive methods and combined with cheesecloth. It's great rough textural stuff and hell to draw on. A wonderful local model posed for it, a sweet elderly man who dressed in green-and-yellow plaid and fancied himself a borscht-belt comedian; he was fond of saying "remember, this is a nose, not a banana."
  • Monday Mornin' Blues

    This drawing is 102” x 143”, done in charcoal and collage on separate sheets of paper which were suspended using steel rods and C-clamps. It is based on three photographs taken in Georgia and North Carolina in the 1880's and '90s by J.J. Kirkbride, Carl Weis, and a third unknown photographer. These men were six of the tens of thousands of African American men who were subjected to a new form of slavery: the incarceration and servitude of innocent men that was put into practice after Reconstruction. The chains are real, taken straight from the photographs. The men are real, too.
  • content better best

    Charcoal and gesso on paper, approximately 48" x 32". Emmanuel was a gentle homeless man and a visionary artist who created astonishing intricately detailed architectural drawings of a world that operates somewhere outside the limitations of the usual three dimensions. We met at an exhibition of a Franciscan Center art class in which he participated; I was struck by his beauty and overcame some reticence to ask him to pose for me.
  • Woman (after Gordon Parks)

    The scale is large, but the piece is small: approximately 14" x 14", charcoal and pastel on paper made by the same crude processes as with the piece "End of Day". The subject is a farm woman, photographed by Gordon Parks for the Farm Security Administration in the 1940's.

bluesmen and other ghosts

The paintings are oil and charcoal and collage on canvas or masonite. The subjects are displaced persons, time travelers, ghosts: most of them from the 30?s and 40?s, people sidelined on farms or city streets, as represented in Farm Security Administration photographs. Apart from me, outside the flow of daily life, strong and bleak and solitary, they wake me with the rawness of their lives. The process is excavation: trying shapes and colors and removing them again, digging for bone with paint and charcoal until, as my eyes become accustomed to a different light, I begin to recognize the depths and artifacts of a certain room, a landscape, the structure of a morning, the sharp solitude of twilight; to see the colors and shadows of a world I cannot enter.

(In much the same spirit I peer sideways into lighted windows as I pass at night.)

  • Sunday Afternoon

    "Sunday Afternoon". This painting is 54" x 42", oil and charcoal on canvas; it's based on a photograph Jack Delano took for the Farm Security Administration in 1941 in Heard County, Georgia. I've kept this painting in my personal collection; it makes me happy to look at these people.
  • Rooms by the Week

    48" x 42", charcoal, oil paint, gesso and collage on masonite. Based on an FSA photograph. I have used that same seated man in other work; here he can be seen under the same title in the project “prints”. (This piece was one of three paintings rented to Runaway Bride; it can be seen, out of focus, throughout a scene in the newspaper office; it comes into focus for one split second: pow: and it’s gone.)
  • A Well-Spent Life

    40” x 30”, oil on canvas with sand. This piece was based on a photograph of the Texas bluesman Mance Lipscomb. He took the name “Mance” from “Emancipation”; his father had once been a slave.
  • Beale Street

    61” x 83”, oil and charcoal on canvas with wood. This was the first large assemblage I made. It was an instinctual process: I played with materials until it seemed that the piece had assumed its necessary shape. The two central men were based on photographs of the Delta bluesmen Mississippi John Hurt and Son House. I have relocated them in Memphis, where Beale Street was a historic center for the blues.
  • All the voices you have heard at all the kitchen tables

    59” x 66”, charcoal, pastel, oil, on canvas with wood. This mixed-media piece is based on two Farm Security Administration photographs of elderly women and a poem.
  • A Street in Vicksburg

    Oil on canvas, approximately 42" x 36". Vicksburg Mississippi, 1936. This is from a photograph by Walker Evans for the Farm Security Administration.
  • Handful of Gimme, Mouthful of Much Obliged

    Charcoal, pastel, newspaper and roofing tar on masonite, 48” x 38”. It is based on a photograph of Sleepy John Estes, a Tennessee blues guitarist who wrote such songs as “Drop Down Mama”, “Railroad Police Blues”, and “Rats in My Kitchen”. (He did not write “Handful of Gimme, Mouthful of Much Obliged”; Fred Neil wrote that in the ‘60’s.) Sleepy John’s epitaph, ".. ain't goin' to worry Poor John's mind anymore", was a line from his song “Someday Baby Blues”.
  • Entella

    48" x 42". As a student in San Francisco I stayed for a while in the Entella Hotel in North Beach. The single rooms there were rented by the week, and most were occupied by old Italian men, many of them crab fishermen, all of them alone. They adopted me and a friend who was also staying there, and we sat and watched them play poker into the night in the night manager's kitchen. This painting was made for them.
  • Waitin' on the Yellow Dog

    Oil on canvas, 54" x 48". The Yellow Dog was the name given to the Yazoo-Delta Railway, which ran from Moorhead to Tutweiler Mississippi. It was in Tutweiler that W.C. Handy first encountered the blues.
  • Home Place

    This piece is approximately 92” x 42”, done in oil stick and paper collage on roofing tarpaper. The lady is based on a photograph by Eudora Welty, whose photographs were as beautiful as her stories.

women in black and other ladies

My first solo show consisted of men and women, sitting or standing alone, without a narrative. I called it “Waiting for Godeau” and accompanied it with this statement, which can be applied to these more recent women as well:

There's an acting exercise in which each actor, in however small a role, reinterprets the play in the light of his or her own character and takes the lead. These may be minor characters in minor dramas, but here they are the stars.

They are presented outside of time and context, while they were waiting for something else: for a bus, or a lover, or for the day to pass, or for news. For the time when they will light another cigarette. Something has happened here, or something is about to happen, but now they only sit and wait.

(Robert Godeau was a funeral director in San Francisco when I was in school there. I used to pass his sign every day on the bus. I’ve waited 30 years to make this pun.)

  • Lady in the Dark

    oil on canvas, 52" x 44"
  • Golden Girl

    oil on canvas, 40" x 30"
  • Diamonds and Rust

    oil on canvas, 40" x 30"
  • Girl on the Beach

    48" x 42", oil on canvas
  • Indian Summer

    oil on canvas, 40" x 30"
  • White Nights

    oil and sand on canvas, 16" x 16"
  • Concierge

    These women were painted for the joy of working with the lush color and textures of the oil paint. Each began with a model; each altered as I worked and began to see more deeply into the world of the painting. ~ This piece is oil on canvas, 30" x 24".
  • In a Gold Room

    oil and encaustic on canvas, 29" x 26"
  • Mae Rose Cottage

    74" x 38" overall; the area shown is approximately 60" x 38". The underlay is charcoal and paper on Luan, with wire; the overlay is metal rod, wire and artificial flowers. The right edge of the wire overlay is hinged along the right side of the Luan; its left edge is suspended 8" in front, so it rests open like a book.
  • Carmen Jones

    oil on canvas, 30" x 24"

moving pictures: acting, directing and charcoal animation

For the past ten years or so, my primary focus has been the theater.  The first seven items here are brief dramatic or comedic monologues.  They are followed by a 12-minute scene I directed on Zoom, my interpretation of a Shakespearean sonnet, and a silent animated charcoal drawing, which is without a category of its own so I have smuggled it into this project.  Also related to theater are my “Written Word” project, which includes adaptations I’ve made for the stage from other literary works, and my "Installations" project, with environments closely approaching stage design.

  • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: Big Mama

    A family meeting. Big Mama has just learned that Big Daddy is dying of cancer, after she had been lied to about the nature of his illness. One of her two sons is primarily concerned with getting his inheritance; the other, Brick, a difficult man whom she adores, is disgusted by the mendacity of his brother and has held himself apart from the gathering. This speech is in the final scene of the play. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Tennessee Williams.
  • The Misanthrope: Arsinoe

    The misanthrope is Alceste, who is fed up with people and with social prevarication. He is unwillingly charmed by the beautiful young Celemene (as is every other man in sight) and is adored by Arsinoe, an unlovable Older Woman. This monologue is spoken by Arsinoe to her rival. The Misanthrope, Moliere.
  • The Little Foxes: Birdie

    Birdie is a sweet gentle woman who has married into a family of avaricious and powerful men--and one woman: Regina is a another of my favorite characters; I've included a monologue of hers below. In the present scene, Birdie is having cookies and a glass of elderberry wine with the three other kindhearted characters in this play. The Little Foxes, Lillian Hellman.
  • Richard III: Duchess of York

    The Duchess of York was the mother of Richard III, the consummate Shakespearean villain and one of my favorite characters of all time. Here the Duchess speaks to her son as he departs for war.
  • August: Osage County, Violet

    A monologue from August: Osage County by Tracy Letts. It's a tough family play: imagine if George and Martha from Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf had actually had children.
  • Table Manners: Ruth

    This is Ruth from Table Manners, one of three plays by Alan Ayckbourn known collectively as The Norman Conquests after Norman, a sweet mindless doofus who manages to seduce his wife and each of her sisters.
  • The Little Foxes: Regina

    Regina wants a life of luxury and travel and excitement, and doesn't mind hurting a few people to attain it. This may include her husband, who is ill with heart trouble. Also in this project is a monologue by Birdie, a sweet ineffectual woman who is married to one of Regina's avaricious brothers. The Little Foxes by Lillian Hellman.
  • Richard II

    A monologue from Shakespeare's Richard II. Richard has just returned from a war in Ireland to find that in his absence Henry Bolingbroke, who will all-too-soon become Henry IV, is leading a rebellion, and that Richard's own men, thinking him dead, have joined with Henry. His few remaining allies attempt to comfort him.
  • Everybody

    I recently directed a scene from Everybody, Branden Jacobs-Jennings' very contemporary adaptation of the Medieval morality play, Everyman. This is nearly the first scene of the play and should be self-explanatory. My actors are, in order of appearance: Kaite Aymes, Katharine McLeod, Cecily Overman, Jojo MacDonald, Celeste Cahn, Cate D'Angelo and Benjamin Heath.
  • Sonnet 97, William Shakespeare *

    This is my interpretation of Shakespeare's Sonnet 97, illustrated with images and animated drawings. It was made for a group based in UK, The Show Must Go Online, which produced all of Shakespeare's plays in chronological order, one each week, during lockdown.


These prints are solar etchings made from photos of my large charcoal drawings. Some are combined with monotypes, others include hand coloring and/or collage. Many of the original drawings can be seen in the project "black and white".

Solar etching is a process of etching a plate by placing on it a positive image on acetate (directly inked on the acetate or reproduced from a photo), and exposing it to light. With normal exposure, you get a plate with which you can print a precise image of the original. But if you remove the acetate, which was masking the dark areas, and expose the whole plate to a few seconds of light, the darker areas will in effect "fall off", leaving unexpected areas of textured white. I greatly enjoy these times when I no longer completely control a project, and fate takes a hand.

Thank you to Soledad Salome for instructing me in this process and for the use of her studio, to Janet Maher of Loyola and to School 33. (I get by with a little help from my friends.)

  • Rooms by the Week: gold

    Solar etching, ink, gold leaf; image is about 8" x 6".
  • Timeline: brown ghost

    solar etching, 5" x 7". This is a "ghost image", printed with the ink that remains on the plate after the original printing.
  • where the Southern cross the Dog: brown and black

    solar etching, 5" x 7". This is a dual print from two different plates: the first plate, printed in brown ink, is normal: lights and darks appear as they did in the original drawing. The second plate, printed in black. was altered by additional exposure to light such that the densest dark areas of image were eaten away, leaving white spaces that did not accept the ink; you see through those missing areas to the brown first print.
  • timeline, handmade paper

    solar etching on rough handmade paper, 10" x 10". This is from a photograph of "Timeline", a line of men's heads, as seen in the project "black and white work".
  • Diptych: Street Scene and Rooms by the Week

    solar etching, 7" x 10". Two separate plates were combined to make this image.
  • Rooms by the Week, handmade paper

    solar etching printed on rough hand-made paper, about 9" x 6". This is from a photograph of a large drawing I made based on a Farm Security Administration image.
  • Street Scene

    Image 8" x 7", solar etching with chine colle, ink, charcoal. The original of this image can also be seen in the project "black and white work".
  • where the Southern cross the Dog

    solar etching, 5" x 7". This plate was altered such that some of the deeper blacks in the original image disappeared. Please see the Overview under the tab "About This Project" for a discussion of the process. ~ This image recurs here, in different incarnations, in the projects "black and white work" and "installations".
  • Diptych: Street Scene and Rooms by the Week, with ink

    Solar etching and ink, 7" x 10". Made by printing two different plates.

small figures: bluesmen, farmers, ghosts

These are small assemblages which combine charcoal or wire drawings of bluesmen and farmers with found objects and materials such as wood, plaster, wire, wax, and paint. Some of them verge on the sculptural; I think of them as 2-1/2 dimensional.  I find a joyous physicality in playing with the rough materials, and hope these pieces express that pleasure.

  • Lower Woburn Grenada--BKLYN.jpg

    I encountered this happy fellow on a walk-about in Grenada. I took several photos of him, which seemed to please him very much, as did the Eastern Caribbean dollar I gave him for the favor. We were on our boat then, on our way home from a year or so in Europe. We had intended to stop in Tobago, but a very strong current and a failed engine intended that we go to Grenada instead. It worked out well.
  • Standing Man

    15" x 16 1/2", metal, paper, tarpaper and charcoal on wood, with wood
  • Pozos de Mineral (a street)

    Pozos de Mineral is a little white plaster village in central Mexico where I spent two magical days a few years ago. The power went out in the village one night; I sat in the square with the townspeople, who had brought candlelanterns and barbeques, and later walked home by starlight through streets empty of cars; the year could as easily have been 1940, or 1920, or 1820 ~~ This piece is 16" x 28"; wire, metal, wood, plaster, cloth and paint.
  • Sunday Morning

    12” x 12”, photo transfer, oil and newspaper on masonite. These are the same men as the two in Street Scene, the 6th piece here; I found them in a Walker Evans photograph. In this case they were transferred from a xerox with wintergreen oil.
  • Landscape (lone figure)

    15" x 15 1/2", hydrocal plaster, wood, charcoal, beeswax and paint, with wood.
  • Monday Mornin' Shoes

    Charcoal on frosted vellum, backed with white paper, mounted on wood; 14" x 14". This is from a 19th Century photograph of a railroad gang of prisoners. Went and asked the judge, said what might be my fine get a pick and shovel boy and go down in the mines it’s the only time I ever felt like cryin’. Mississippi John Hurt
  • Dust Bowl Refugees

    25" x 27", photo transfer, oil paint and paper on masonite with wood. This was an early working of the Dorothea Lange photograph on which I based Six Tenant Farmers (see "Dust Bowl Refugees" in the projects "installations" and "written word"). Two other of the farmers can be seen here in "Tenant Farmers (sunbleached)", #8.
  • Landscape (steel)

    These small figures are farmers, bluesmen and ramblers. They are based on Farm Security Administration photos from the 1930's and '40's; some are photo transfers and some are drawings, or both. This piece is 15" x 17", metal, wire, wood, charcoal, beeswax and housepaint.
  • Crokies

    These are from a series of small figures I made by playing. They utilize wood, metal, paper, tarpaper, sticks, wire, plaster, paint, pastel, and whatever else was around. They are 12"-15" high. "Crokies" are small quick sketches, used especially by fashion illustrators.
  • 'Round Midnight.jpg

    This collage is 14" x 18". It incorporates a print of Where the Southern cross the Dog (see in Prints project), tarpaper, silvered tarpaper, wire and wood.


Many of these pieces were made simply for the sensual pleasure of working with soft charcoal, thick paint and vibrant color, and a fascination with line, which I approached as if I were following it, as it moved across a page. Many of the pieces in this project, even those not obviously linear, express that fascination. Three of them were part of a larger project, which can be seen here in my projects “moving pictures” and “installations”.

  • A Topology (for the Coney Island lode)

    I was asked to make a self-portrait for a show a few years ago, and rather than peer in a mirror I chose to work from a photograph of me at age--5? 6?--with my daddy in Colorado, where we spent my childhood summers. This piece includes collaged papers, encaustic, and transparencies of mining plats (in the panel on the right). Approximately 54" x 48". You can read the accompanying artist's statement in the project entitled "Written Word".
  • Refractions, Red Black and White

    Encaustic on wood, 10" x 8"
  • Out of Memory

    This was an out-take from my animated film, which you can see in the project “moving pictures”. The film explores time and memory; in an earlier version, a web of roots or branches (or cerebral neurons?) eventually grew over and obscured the entire image.
  • Starscape

    Encaustic on wood, 10" x 8"
  • Wheatfield

    oil on Luan, 36" x 26"
  • Refractions, Red and Grey

    oil and sand on canvas, 30" x 30"
  • Seeking Bone

    150” x 78”, acrylic, oil bar, housepaint, charcoal, pastel and roofing tar on vinyl. This is a continuation of the body of work begun with my multi-media installation Timeline, exploring line, arcane theories of the structure of time, and fading memory. It represents a root system, reaching down through soil seeking the bones of the earth.
  • Tree

    Charcoal on various papers and wall, approximately 96" x 48". This was part of my installation "Time Line".
  • Red Figure in Landscape

    oil on canvas, 24" x 18"


I worked for many years in the theater, primarily as a set designer. It was tremendously exciting to create a piece of art which one could walk into, immerse onesself in an environment, imagine oneself in some different time and place. I still prefer to incorporate my paintings and drawings as elements of an environment, rather than to hang them individually on clean white walls. The installation "where the Southern cross the Dog" (the capitalization is deliberate; it's a line from an old blues song W.C. Handy overheard while waiting for a train) incorporated various materials and detritus which would have been part of the lives of the farmers and Delta bluesmen in my paintings.  An old radio in the corner played country blues. The installation "timeline" explored expressions of time and line both in the drawings I made (mummies, trees, figures from long ago) and in the materials—wire, rope, rebar—which filled the room and passed through the air from drawing to drawing. Other of these installations were more purely abstract; one, "From Reverence to Exultation", was an actual set design for a jazz performance.

  • From Reverence to Exultation

    From Reverence to Exultation was an exhibition at the Creative Alliance in which a group of artists made work in response to John Coltrane's A Love Supreme. My part was to design, build and light a stage set for a performance by The Onus of compositions by Coltrane and Darryl Harper. I had designed sets for theater but never for a concert, so Darryl and I conferred extensively; I learned about their spatial needs, especially the square footage I must provide the drummer so that he not topple backward off his platform.
  • Displaced Realities: The Space Between

    Nine artists took over both floors of Maryland Art Place’s original Saratoga Street gallery for two months some years ago to create a collaborative installation. We had met weekly throughout the previous summer to discuss ideas, look at one another’s work and establish parameters: we would explore unaccustomed media, interrelate our work with at least one piece of direct collaboration, and permit the others to alter our work as they might choose.
  • Charts for a TimeTraveler

    This work was installed for Artscape. A row of 7’ x 3’ x 3’ boxes (referred to as “telephone booths”) was arrayed down Mount Royal as viewing stations. I used roots and branches, wire, glass, paper and silver leaf to draw line through space, extending it on into infinity by means of broken mirror at the top and bottom. I considered that I was mapping some arcane and crazed route, perhaps into an alternate universe.
  • So Long and Thanks for All the Fish, detail

    The area shown is approximately 48” x 60” x 24”deep, using wire, tubing, metal, bicycle parts, found objects, paper, charcoal and mirror. I made it for The Bike Project at HCC in collaboration with Breon Gilleran, a metal sculptor, who could build the structure for any fantasy. We began by playing with wheels and gears, and found distant galaxies and the harmony of the spheres.
  • Dust Bowl Refugees

    The piece as installed is 96” x 180”; it is charcoal, pastel, gesso, oil bar, plaster, and paper collage on wood, canvas and tarpaper on the five separate panels, each panel utilizing different mediums. It is based on Dorothea Lange’s photograph of six tenant farmers who have been evicted from their land in Hardeman County, Texas, in 1937. In installation this piece was centered on one wall of the gallery; the remainder of that wall and the other three walls were left empty except for a charcoal horizon which was drawn on the wall between the men and continued around the entire room.
  • Summer Dresses

    This is an installation detail of "Timeline", showing the piece "Summer Dresses", a large (about 72” x 72”) charcoal drawing of my mother and four of her sisters, done from a photograph taken at a family reunion in 1957. The drawing felt too immediate, the women too easily accessed; I wanted to hold the viewer at a distance, to partially obscure the image of the women as memory fades with time. I built a structure to stand between the drawing and the viewer, using glass, wire, silver leaf, a poem and a drawing of my mother in old age.
  • Timeline: installation view

    My installation Timeline was concerned with time, line and memory: years overlapping, line drawn in four dimensions with no beginning or end but which only enters and departs the picture. It was about drawing and being drawn, reaching like roots through soil seeking the bones of the earth.
  • Outside the Juke-Joint

    This is another view of "where the Southern cross the Dog". I incorporated an old ladder in the installation, and considered that the radiator and steam pipes were part of it, too. The neighbors of the South Baltimore gallery where I installed the work were worried about me; they would peek in, see the ladder and an old can of paint which I also fancied, and say “oh dear, you still haven’t finished it!”
  • where the Southern cross the Dog

    “I’m goin’ where the Southern cross the Dog” is a line from an old lost railroad blues song W.C.Handy overheard while waiting for a train in a deserted station in Tutweiler Mississippi, where the Yazoo Delta Railway, known locally as the Yellow Dog, crossed the Southern. This piece was the heart of a gallery installation that combined assemblage with paintings of the sharecroppers and bluesmen of the 1930’s South.
  • Sweet as the Showers of Rain

    This is a corner view of the installation “where the Southern cross the Dog”, incorporating a charcoal drawing with architectural elements, collage drawings and newspaper.

written word: essays, poems and theater

Sometimes a visual image doesn't seem sufficient, and I approach the work again through text or, in one case, an animated video (which can be seen in the project "moving pictures". The two expressions can stand independently, but taken together they serve to enrich one another. At other times an essay may help pull together an installation or exhibition of paintings, providing insight to the viewer or, perhaps more significantly, to myself.  

Other of these pieces are adaptations for the stage of a variety of works, ranging from the ancient Greek Trojan Women to Jack and the Beanstalk.

  • Summer Dresses

    ...moving freely back and forth through the 94 years of her life…Her shifting reality was so vibrant that I came to doubt my own, and to think, who am I to say she's wrong?

    PDF icon Summer Dresses
  • Dust Bowl Refugees

    The men are ghosts. The men are long gone, moved on or died. The land is still there and it’s still dry wornout flatland.

    PDF icon Dust Bowl Refugees
  • A Topoloogy (for the Coney Island Lode)

    I dreamed out the window, my head lost in stars and black prairie night. By dawn we saw faint blue mountains ghosting along the horizon...

    PDF icon A Topoloogy (for the Coney Island Lode)
  • A Map of Venice

    Looking long afterward into a map of Venice I am abruptly and powerfully entangled in darkness:

    PDF icon A Map of Venice
  • Monday Mornin' Blues

    …The perfect solution to both dilemmas soon became apparent: arrest and imprison black men and lease them to the railroads, the mines and the factories as a form of slave labor. While the 13th Amendment freed the slaves, it specifically permitted involuntary servitude for “duly convicted” criminals. New laws were written which targeted the freed slaves, making criminal such acts as speaking loudly in the presence of a white woman, quitting a job without permission, or “vagrancy”, which could be construed to suit one’s pleasure.

    PDF icon Monday Mornin' Blues
  • MoonPlay

    This is a clown-play about celestial navigation. I devised and performed this piece with three actors in workshop at Single Carrot Theatre. The text as presented here is a record of what we did, together with a discussion of what we had hoped to do and how we might in future overcome some rather massive technical problems.

    PDF icon MoonPlay
  • The Trojan Women

    This is a translation I am working on, based on multiple translations from the Greek. It’s a work in progress; here are two of the three scenes which I have thus far completed. For the most part I’ve used iambic pentameter, probably not what Euripides used but perhaps closer for our ears. The Messenger, however, speaks (after his first three lines) in casual contemporary prose.

    I have incorporated lines from TS Eliot’s The Waste Land and Sweeney Among the Nightingales. These will be read by an off-stage voice, or by a visible actor who remains outside the action.

    PDF icon The Trojan Women
  • Goodbye and Good Luck

    I have adapted Grace Paley’s short story, Goodbye and Good Luck, for the stage. I have retained virtually all of the narration and dialogue spoken by her characters exactly as Paley wrote it. It was simply too good to alter. The staging is mine.

    PDF icon Goodbye and Good Luck
  • Jack and the Beanstalk

    This is a design project based on the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. (Why not?)

    PDF icon Jack and the Beanstalk
  • Conversion of the Jews.pdf

    This is an adaptation for the stage of Philip Roth’s short story, The Conversion of the Jews

    PDF icon Conversion of the Jews.pdf

photographs: Italy

I spent two weeks in Italy a few years ago. I missed connections and spent the first night in Toronto; my bag traveled on its own to London and Albania and reluctantly rejoined me in Siena 9 days later; I fell through a trapdoor in a shop in Rome & hurt my knee rather seriously; I had a terrific cold and stomach flu and the weather was, as we say, brutto. It was brilliant. Italy may be the most beautiful place I've ever been. I walked through so many beautiful medieval cities I became blase', thought I was beyond being surprised or impressed, and then I'd turn a corner and stop dead, mouth open, no words available save, you should pardon the expression, "holy shit". When I became thoroughly lost I'd ask directions in my rudimentary Italian and people would walk blocks out of their way, closing up shop if necessary, to take me where I wanted to go, or where they thought it sounded like I wanted to go. I took about a thousand photographs.

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