Using Wood Planks, Whitfield Lovell Conjures a Texas Resident in ‘Echo I’

WASHINGTON, DC—Although she is attired in a fine-looking dress, the expression on this woman’s face shows as much despair as the wood on which she is drawn. The engaging work by Whitfield Lovell is hanging in the contemporary gallery of the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum. According to the museum, Lovell created the portrait directly on “the plank wall of an abandoned row house in Houston, Texas, in homage to the home’s former residents—families of railroad workers.” The choice of medium—a standard in Lovell’s practice—introduces a tangible authenticity and renders the woman’s image as an apparition, a remembrance of an earlier time, place and context.

Photos by Arts Observer

Detail of “Echo 1,” 1996 (mixed media on wood).

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