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Norah Lovell

Artist Statement Submitted 2015

In painting, I’m drawn towards a Southern vernacular, with its imbedded themes of captivity and haunting. The seat of deep mystery, it compels my investigation into gothic tropes and prompts tangentially linked personal narratives.

The submitted series is inspired by the Battle of New Orleans, 1815. Under Andrew Jackson a motley assemblage—including pirates, free men of color, Choctaws, Baratarians and nuns united (for one unduplicated moment) against the British. My research was steeped in battleground maps (with their cordoned-off, unknowable swamps) and documentary images, notably a 1943 version by Ethel Magafan characterized by sepulchral fog and a spooky aura. The now obscure Ethel twin sister Jenne, successful painters with multiple WPA commissions, feature insistently in my narrative.

The series is finally a ghost story: The once prolific Magafans largely forgotten, battle recorded through the lens of women obscured, historic battle absorbed into modern New Orleans.

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