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Sharon Shapiro
Virginia

Artist Statement Submitted 2015

I could never forget that I gave birth. And yet we made sure there was evidence – one unmistakable photograph of a newborn girl in my tired arms. Images both presuppose and flatten time. We record memories with the assumption that we may somehow forget. We carved four presidents’ faces into South Dakota granite both to commemorate and predicate American exceptionalism.

States and persons are similarly preoccupied with their own histories. Confederate flags still abound in my neighborhood 150 years after its symbol’s demise, and my grandmother’s handwritten recipe for Derby pie still conjures the taste and smell of my childhood. Growing up in the American South left me with an abundance of mourning: for the decades of poverty in my coal-mining family, for the awareness of forced hospitality, and for the horror of enslavement that underlies so many of our region’s traditions.

In my work, I paint with bittersweetness. I present what we meant not to lose.

www.sharonshapiro.com

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