What’s in “Lamesa, Texas”? What’s in Lamesa, Texas?

 

Exactly. But things aren’t as they seem.
Emilia Papanicolau, photo senior this year, was part of the recent group show of selected photo works in the Main Building’s Gallery. Her series, “Lamesa, Texas” caught my eye. Rustic colors of the Wild, Wild West–a dusty America bygone but still romanticized and ever alive in pockets of popular culture like the movie Toy Story. Not really animated in life, but like the toys in the movie, but kicking in our minds when we speak of it. Familiarity and foreignness intertwined, the art pieces somehow miss the mark of being “otherly”. Perhaps it’s because we insist on its presentness.
My encounter with Emilia was much like my first and second with “Lamesa, Texas”. Familiar, warm, yet something to dig deeper into, like the link has been set. Perhaps my bias is that like Emilia, I am from Boston with a few close relatives in Texas at one point; that like her, for summers, instead of going to the Cape or Martha’s Vineyard, we’d go to Texas or other places that our neighbors wouldn’t be at. She didn’t have to explain to me that greater Boston has a large Irish and Italian populace, with pockets of Jewish people and hardly any Black folk–at least where we grew up. Yet we never met until now, both being in Baltimore–a city that feels like a hodgepodge of various places in its aesthetics and the variety of peoples in sections of the city. We don’t have to explain these things, much less Red Sox passion or the urban geography.
Lamesa, Texas used to be a favorite place of ice cream, skipping children, family and smiling folk for Emilia. But as she got older, and her grandparents aged, the other community members also grew and went other places. She developed Massachusetts eyes, and looked through these irises on Lamesa. It has some cracks, but daisies grew there. A photograph from the “Lamesa, Texas” portfolio shows that the grass is still green, but there are no people, just a wooden sign. It’s as though a soccer match just broke for the day. Another photograph shows that the windows aren’t blocked up like in Baltimore, but there’s no one to see–just wall, cracked glass, and the dust that tricked in with the wind. It does not feel like a ghost town; perhaps it’s the magic of colors the photographer creates. Every photograph catches shadows yawning. There are traces of people having just stood up two minutes ago, to go to the BBQ at Sherry’s house or the Diary Queen. The sun has moved on, too.
Perhaps our forefathers made such an imprint on the world that when we talk about Americans or Americanism, we are really referring to a bygone America. That America of classic southern belles, proper gentlemen and patriotic senior citizens and children, with an upstanding government and powerful military–is something that may still be true to a certain extent, but not in the same way as before. Emilia endearingly reflects these thoughts on Lamesa’s afternoon stillness in her photograph series. Perhaps everyone in the USA has been taking dips in our friends’ pools, but we feel somewhat at home thinking that ‘America’ is that place two houses down–just the way we left it. Yet it’s dusty and all the passersby see it needs some cleaning and renovating. Perhaps being American now, is to search for a home. “Lamesa, Texas” has been de-installed for the Transformations Conference this weekend, but you can try catching Emilia before she graduates spring 2010. With this project as an inspirational launch pad, she is scouting quiet, ignored, abandoned areas for the traces people left behind, whether within the last decade, or the last hundred years. She’ll be pursuing graduate studies, and practical work immediately post-graduation. View her portfolio here (link: http://student.mica.edu/epapanicolaon), and her blog here (link: http://emilia-antonia.blogspot.com/)

What’s in “Lamesa, Texas”? What’s in Lamesa, Texas?

Exactly. But things aren’t as they seem.

Emilia Papanicolau, photo senior this year, was part of the recent group show of selected photo works in the Main Building’s Gallery. Her series, “Lamesa, Texas” caught my eye. Rustic colors of the Wild, Wild West–a dusty America bygone but still romanticized and ever alive in pockets of popular culture like the movie Toy Story. Not really animated in life, but like the toys in the movie, but kicking in our minds when we speak of it. Familiarity and foreignness intertwined, the art pieces somehow miss the mark of being “otherly”. Perhaps it’s because we insist on its presentness.

My encounter with Emilia was much like my first and second with “Lamesa, Texas”. Familiar, warm, yet something to dig deeper into, like the link has been set. Perhaps my bias is that like Emilia, I am from Boston with a few close relatives in Texas at one point; that like her, for summers, instead of going to the Cape or Martha’s Vineyard, we’d go to Texas or other places that our neighbors wouldn’t be at. She didn’t have to explain to me that greater Boston has a large Irish and Italian populace, with pockets of Jewish people and hardly any Black folk–at least where we grew up. Yet we never met until now, both being in Baltimore–a city that feels like a hodgepodge of various places in its aesthetics and the variety of peoples in sections of the city. We don’t have to explain these things, much less Red Sox passion or the urban geography.

Lamesa, Texas used to be a favorite place of ice cream, skipping children, family and smiling folk for Emilia. But as she got older, and her grandparents aged, the other community members also grew and went other places. She developed Massachusetts eyes, and looked through these irises on Lamesa. It has some cracks, but daisies grew there. A photograph from the “Lamesa, Texas” portfolio shows that the grass is still green, but there are no people, just a wooden sign. It’s as though a soccer match just broke for the day. Another photograph shows that the windows aren’t blocked up like in Baltimore, but there’s no one to see–just wall, cracked glass, and the dust that tricked in with the wind. It does not feel like a ghost town; perhaps it’s the magic of colors the photographer creates. Every photograph catches shadows yawning. There are traces of people having just stood up two minutes ago, to go to the BBQ at Sherry’s house or the Diary Queen. The sun has moved on, too.

Perhaps our forefathers made such an imprint on the world that when we talk about Americans or Americanism, we are really referring to a bygone America. That America of classic southern belles, proper gentlemen and patriotic senior citizens and children, with an upstanding government and powerful military–is something that may still be true to a certain extent, but not in the same way as before. Emilia endearingly reflects these thoughts on Lamesa’s afternoon stillness in her photograph series. Perhaps everyone in the USA has been taking dips in our friends’ pools, but we feel somewhat at home thinking that ‘America’ is that place two houses down–just the way we left it. Yet it’s dusty and all the passersby see it needs some cleaning and renovating. Perhaps being American now, is to search for a home. “Lamesa, Texas” has been de-installed for the Transformations Conference this weekend, but you can try catching Emilia before she graduates spring 2010. With this project as an inspirational launch pad, she is scouting quiet, ignored, abandoned areas for the traces people left behind, whether within the last decade, or the last hundred years. She’ll be pursuing graduate studies, and practical work immediately post-graduation. View her portfolio here, and her blog here.

by Ellice Park

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