I make drawings and prints, focused on ideas of cultural amnesia: what is forgotten, what is remembered, what leaves an impression, what allows for suppression. I examine symbols and stories that people hold most dearly and how those images betray and reinforce the narratives they are meant to convey. To this end, I spend a good amount of time researching historical documents and artifacts, especially 19th century American newspapers but also objects. I’ve amassed a large archive of newspapers, digital and print, that I pull from, many with remarkable, sometimes discomfiting names: The Comrade, The Populist, The Radical, Sunny South, American Citizen, The Weekly Caucasian, The Mississippi Socialist, The Southerner. Then I alter and transform them, re-presenting these newspapers through drawing and prints. Sometimes I erase all the content, leaving only the template, or I redact all the text, making it unreadable. Sometimes I leave just the title, dates and location. Other times, an image takes over where the contents would be.  Other works pull from figures, costumes, textiles, and monuments. I see each of my drawings as an impression, in the literal sense of pressing of text into paper, of drawing utensil into paper, mimicking the original press of the newspaper. A drawing also relays an intangible, suppressed impression, something buried underneath, one that lingers in the mind or shows up suddenly as if remembered in a flash. Each drawing, then, appears more as a phantom than as a document. I see this phantom document as both a literal suppression of the information as well as a mental suppression. I am questioning what I really know about the past, what is emphasized, what is left out, what I emphasize, what I leave out, and what images linger in the mind long after the statues come down or the newspapers are discarded.

John Shorb, Tops Gallery, 15.jpg