||art installations by Katherine Bartel
Exhibition dates: February 2 - May 25, 2003
History is a combination of photographs, documents and memory. All of these sources originate from a particular viewpoint, a particular time. Historians would say that there is no such thing as an “objective” account. As an artist, I have taken my personal viewpoint one step farther, expressing not the factual narrative as I remember it but the cultural identity it has imprinted on me. We are the sum of the legacy of our ancestors and the person we choose to become. Embedded in the inheritance are values, beliefs, a version of what is normal, and many rich relationships with people. We may decide to live differently once we are grown, but the foundation is already laid.
Memory is different from narrative. Time becomes more fluid, more layered. Events are synthesized across the years, people appear at multiple ages. Some images are still crisp and detailed, others are blurred and faded. All of the senses can recall these thingsthe smell of zwieback baking, the touch of a baby’s skin, the sound of congregational singing, the taste of peppernuts at Christmas, the way wheat bends in the wind. The past and present intersect as familiar objects leave clues about where they started. Time dissolves as the past takes over our consciousness momentarily.
Living close to tradition is warm, but it can also filter one’s judgment. I have been away from Kansas for 13 years, living among the rest of the world. This distance has allowed me to be nostalgic at times, but I have also been able to sort out the wheat and the chaff. The place I remember was not perfect. When church members ask visitors who their parents are, our guests feel like outsiders. But when I participated in a recent peace march, it was because I know war is wrong. As an urban professional, I do not grow my own vegetables or bake zwieback. This is a loss in the quality of life, but my calling is greater now. My work as an artist brings me closer to God and community.
Katherine Bartel, January 2003
Floyd Bartel, Justina Neufeld, Rachel Pannabecker, Arlin Ratzlaff, Chuck Regier
This exhibition is presented in part by the Kansas Arts Commission, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency