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Arden Cone
South Carolina

Artist Statement Submitted 2020

Ever since America’s original sin turned vital, leaving the South with death, debt, and dishonor from the Civil War, Southerners like me have been fighting to know what we are. My work focuses on the region’s identity, a lost and unstable piece of the American feeling.

Though usually an enigma, Southernness doubles over when subject to introspection, becoming a caricature of its own constituent. We are refined yet redneck, cohesive yet polarized, the land of the red state paradox and the irony of the confederate-flag waving, self-proclaimed, quote-unquote, American patriot.

We rest our laurels, with uncertain pride, on the grace leftover from our antebellum “heyday.” Proper Southerners know better than to air their dirty laundry, but I’ll just say it: “the peculiar institution” built every one of us.

I embrace the pain and the laughter of the Southern condition. One can pick a side, or resign to our fate: we are not as simple as a stereotype.

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