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Peter Precourt
Things Fall Apart

Works from Sabbatical and the Trustee Professorship

Peter Precourt_ThingsFallApart_Sumi-e ink and coffee on photodiffuser screen_72x48in _2020

August 30 - September 30, 2021

Opening Reception: September 9, 4:30 - 5:30 p.m.
Artist's Lunchtime Talk: September 29, 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.

Artist's Statement
Things Fall Apart: Works from Sabbatical and the Trustee Professorship

In the Fall of 2020 and the Spring of 2021, I was awarded the gift of time with a Trustee Professorship and a Sabbatical. Originally, the plan included traveling to two exhibitions, a deeper dive into another body of work I am examining, (the Katrina Chronicles), and an exhibition and residency in Berlin.

Fall was a time of hope, with the promise vaccinations and the fog seemingly lifting after the devastating losses of the Covid era. Yet Fall brought winter, with a surge of infections and limitations of travel. Later, the Delta variant emerged.  I found that the instability and destabilization of normal life took its toll on me, and I could not continue the structure of the Katrina Chronicles. Working on the series brought back anxiety and trepidation that I thought had passed, but that had simply been buried under the non-crisis years that had passed since.

Over 2020-21, I returned to a series I have been exploring  over the past fifteen years, the amusement park. I found solace in the simple act of drawing and re-drawing these structures. I draw to understand things, and to examine and accept the things I can’t understand. Reducing my palette to black, white and the occasional smudges of my dark brown coffee, I began to find my way. After a long conversation with the writer Veronica Kavass, who was writing an exhibition essay about my work, I revisited Yeats poem “The Second Coming,” which contains the line “Things Fall Apart.” The poem, which still resonates today, informed many of titles of the work in the exhibition.

This work is, on some level, impacted by my interests in many things: doubt and uncertainty, the vibration between abstraction and representation, questions of permanence and unrest, community and isolation, COVID and fracture, light and dark, traditional materials and contemporary processes. But, at the heart of this work is the act of drawing and painting. With the brush in one hand, a pot of ink and different sized brushed in the other, I recorded and reordered not only what  I saw and felt, but what is tangible and what is elusive. A commitment to doubt can sometimes be reborn as reassurance.

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