Memoir Americana - 2009

Memoir America explores our individual historical narratives and our place within a collective historical narrative. Our perception of the past is shaped by the language of our time, the landscape, the rhetoric of messages and images which are distilled into a personal history and an understanding of identity. I consider history as memory, continually re-inscribing itself; as a time capsule discovered and read again and again and understood only in terms of the present.

The paintings in this series are presented as memory-scapes. They express my personal view of what it means to be a part of the American fabric, depicting memories spanning the years before my birth through the present, roughly from 1965 to the present. I'm interested in asking how we untangle the imagery and language of the past in our present.

I see America in terms of the history of the land and an association with owning, moving through and protecting the land, a land "made for you and me". Each painting contains a tangle of landscapes, none being one place but containing multiple places which influenced my personal narrative. I see each landscape as an ultra-Americana landscape. Each human image is grounded in the landscape and a particular time, in a portrayal and celebration of cultural difference.

The language of the land has been written through the physical architecture, agriculture, signage and transportation, and also the written words of song, stories and laws. How we see this landscape is tied up in the dialog between the physical and theoretical idea of land. I attempted to have this dialog on the canvas by integrating text and symbols into our American landscape. In the painting "Atomic Winter" the texture detail for the potato cellar, which look like bunkers, are both the hand written lyrics (second, third and forth stanza) and Morse code (first stanza) to Francis Scott Keys "Star Spangled Banner", this is to ask the question of what is the ground we stand on and how much do we understand the land we come from, much like how many of us can recognize our national anthem in Morse code or the other three verses that include the following lines.

A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave.
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave…

As Max Frisch wrote in "I'm Not Stiller" "We live in an age of reproduction. Most of what makes up our personal picture of the world we have never seen with our own eyes - or rather, we've seen it with our own eyes, but not on the spot: our knowledge comes to us from a distance, we are televiewer, telehearers, teleknowers." This series is my small addition to the historical record for all the telegeneration.

Eric Montoya



Tenuous Nature of Desire - 2007 - 2008


In my work I tend to blend the boundaries between man and nature. The series "Tenuous Nature of Desire" pushes the boundaries from superficial beauty to the inner personalities (Animas) turned toward the individual's unconscious desire and the tenuous position of confronting that desire. The series then deals with the Animus of "nature" as viewed through seasons, elements and stages of life.

I'm driven that art has an impact on society by being a predecessor and response to our culture. First off, the arts experiment with what it means to be human, pushing the current boundaries of how we think about ourselves. These thoughts, whether in the form of the visual arts, music or writing influence tomorrows products, everything from our mass entertainment to mass produced products, iPods to Kia's. Then secondly through the arts we reexamine current culture, and proceed to comment on it and its place in history. We live in a time when abstract art is the most accessible of the visual arts and for the most part iniquitous to most viewers, whereas, landscape or figurative work is infused with meaning that can challenge today's viewer. The landscape now doesn't just provide a pastoral escape or view of and exotic place, it's infused with environmentalism, carbon sinks, devastation, escape, etc. Figurative work challenges in many the same ways with the body being a representation of our neurosis or placement for desire, nothing as simple as representing a person. I must say I like these challenges, which is probably a very post modern way to think but we live in a post modern world where one cannot escape the influence of the past and the present.

Eric Montoya