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Gary Monroe

Artist Statement Submitted 2015

Many may view Tennessee as being famous for Elvis Presley, Country Music, the Great Smoky Mountains, Moonshine, and Moon-Pies. Tennessee is, or has been, home to Graceland, Libertyland, Opryland, Dollywood, Rock City, Twitty City, and even Buford Pusser’s Museum of Justice.
My home state of Tennessee and Appalachia is the point of departure for my artwork. Tennessee, becomes an apocryphal country where I marry interpretations of Classic and Contemporary Art with narratives of Southern vernacular culture.
The most recent work, “Comedy County Cocke”, mimics Dante Alighieri’s Comedia, while following the travels of a trio of ne'er-do-well’s through a region notorious for chop shops, cockfighting rings, dishonest acquisition, and illicitly produced distilled spirits. Among recurring motifs in Dante’s Comedia: the She-wolf, the tragic story of Francesca and Paolo, the three-headed dog Cerberus, and Plutus; are modified to follow the narrative of of this apocryphal Appalachian locale.

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