The Erie Observer, Indenture
I have always defined drawing as making marks on a surface, which
leaves the door open for what is a mark and what is a drawing surface. In
my case, I have chosen to work on old ‘found paper’ documents with many
of these being more than 100 years old. I inherit a history of mark-making
circumstance on these documents in regards to stains, tears, smudges,
folds, color of paper, design elements, stamps, gesture, and a narrative,
just to name a few. It is a vocabulary of preordained aesthetics that I must
react to, develop a relationship with, choose to enhance, delete, adopt, or
obliterate, while imposing new layers from my own time and interval of
space. In a sense, the drawing becomes a metaphor for how we deal with
our past, and our collective history and whether we choose to ignore,
change, or embellish it, which can bring its more important components
into the contemporary light of day.
When my personal history as a 21st century artist is added to a 150 year
old piece of paper, it transforms the context of the page from a minor
historical record into a contemporary and self-expressive work of art.
This metamorphosis underscores the social purposes these documents
served years ago in both time and place, which are no longer tangible; yet
an element of their respective histories still remains. Each document
becomes a foundation for the new work that pays homage to its history
and, at the same time, breathes life into the paint that now embosses it
with a new layer. The verbal language on the original documents, the
language of accidental blemishes, stains and tears that come with age
characterize the new painterly additions as abstract visual counterpoints,
lending an overall effect that metaphorically links a lexicon beset by time.
My own additions bear a reverence for these changes, which subsequently
gives shape to the present, and simultaneously differentiates and joins
‘then’ and ‘now’.
Doug Navarra is a visual artist who lives just ten minutes south of
Kingston, N.Y. in the hamlet of Saint Remy. He typically works on old
documents which was the subject of a one-person exhibition this summer
at the Woodstock Art Association and Museum. His works is represented
in numerous public collections and he has been the recipient of a Pollock-
Krasner Fellowship amongst others.