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Damian Stamer
North Carolina

Artist Statement Submitted 2020

I paint places close to home, barns and abandoned buildings. For all my positive memories exploring this land as a child, these ruins also represent a past and present I too often did not see. The tobacco industry that brought picturesque barns was built upon enslavement, oppression, and exploitation. Far too many of these transgressions persist to this day.

I am haunted by an old barn’s history, yet I find beauty within it. Time is visible here. Quiet moments near the sublime when afternoon light rakes the grain of a fallen beam, or cloud-like stuffing erupts from a rotten chair. Violent and tender, this beauty hinges on the delicate nature of existence. These remnants are, like us, soaked with impermanence. We cannot escape a similar fate.

I depict these icons of the American South not to monumentalize, but rather to question our identities embedded and reflected within them. Nostalgia, violence, loss, guilt, fragility, and complicity coexist. What else can I still not see?

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