Ties That Bind




Loda, Nathan

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I started this series with a question, what is my identity? This led me to look at my childhood influences -- playmobil toys, adventure films, and my outdoor experiences – all of which started to inform the subject matter for the paintings. These influences led me to research more about the subject’s history and in turn, my own history. From a trove of artifacts, letters, photographs and family lore, I started using stories about ancestors as the narrative in my paintings, while continuing to use my childhood toys as symbolic representations. So began my series of paintings that explore the ties that bind people, places, and histories together. The paintings create open-ended and sometimes fictitious narratives that are derived from my ancestors’ stories. For example, a number of paintings follow the life of my fourth great grand father Cornelius K. Stribling. After forty years of service in the United States Navy, he had to cope with the death of his son, John Maxwell, who had left the Union to die in the Confederate Navy. Or my great great grandfather Ebenezer Lee Perry whose brother, Grant, went west in 1893 to work for the abolitionist American Missionary Association on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. Some of the recurring symbols and characters in the paintings, such as the little feathered doll I call the trickster, suggest that there is more than meets the eye, and perhaps things are not as they appear. Part of the reason for painting images or objects from the past is to call into question my own perceived understanding of history and perhaps imagine a different one. My hope is that these paintings offer an opportunity to examine the history of a country and culture that is continuously learning who it is through conflicting interpretations of shared histories.



Art, Painting, History, American, Realism, Culture