The Stars We Steer
by Jodi Hays
In June of 1995, The Hale Bopp comet traced its feathery, ghostly course across the sky; stunning and beautiful, yet sinister in its association with the Heaven’s Gate cult. News outlets shared a bizarre cacophony of images and stories, including everything from stars to sneakers, matter and faith, beauty and death. Land, and the contemporary South, in particular, embodies many ideas, ideologies, references, subjects, communities and sustains complicated associations with material. Like Painting, like the Hale-Bopp, glory and wretchedness seems to need each other.
Charting the position of painting and tracing/navigating it’s “digressions” through the drawn, damaged or cut mark, reframing convention and deconstruction, these artists build an iconography, an inexhaustible, light-emitting mark. At times the mark is measurable and apparent, and sometimes diffuse and invisible. And now, we find our way in and around our homes in a “new” social-distancing world, tracking and covering microscopic points of contact. Our homes are a condition for presence and discovery.
Much like a painter’s relationship to a complicated medium and history, “southern” artists contend with a troubled and complicated “place.” Artists in The Stars We Steer By create work that leans into the gritty and subconscious, remnants and ghosts, not unlike a gothic tradition, yet considering a wider, more inclusive, more complicated path.
1. from a 1996 interview by Laura Miller with David
2. Pema Chondron
3. Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable
condition. -James Baldwin
4. It’s not down on any map. True places never are.
Moby Dick, Melville.