Do Not Remove series

26 paintings, acrylic, gel transfer, encaustic and oil on masonite, 12.5" x 10", 2010-12

I found the photos in this series in an unlabelled folder at the provincial archives, and the seemingly random nature of the subjects drew me to them. I imagine what life was like during the time that these photos were taken. They appear to be from around WWII, at a point when industry and roles in society were dramatically changing. Men and women alike were stepping up for a common cause, with men going off to war and women assuming vital roles to keep industry running back home. 

These photos document existence in another time and place. Not the big events or important people, but the mundane and everyday. Women working together doing industrial jobs, a motorcyclist jumping a row of men on the ground, a man delivering a block of ice, a fellow getting a chest x-ray, two large round metal storage orbs, and a parade, to name a few. They are evidence of a reality that we are less and less connected to, and things that we take for granted or are not even aware of. These photos document the little bits of time that get lost in the larger story, and they reveal people who were just trying to make their way through an era of tremendous upheaval. 

For me, reproducing these photos and then covering them in layers of wax is a way to demonstrate my desire to preserve the memories in these photos. I've carved into the wax layers, tracing over the forms, and then rubbing oil paint into the lines to outline and highlight the important subjects in the photos, and make sure they don't get lost under the layers. These photos were all clearly stamped by the archives with "DO NOT REMOVE" and "RESEARCH ONLY," and I've maintained these instructions in my paintings, echoing a sentiment that these not be removed (from our collective conscious), but instead used as for research or reflection.

Tanya CampComment