August 9th, 2009
Bill Traylor’s work is simple and spatial and to me somehow profound. He seemed to have been on familiar terms with the space around him; familiar with life in the margins as an observer.
Traylor was born in Alabama into slavery. It was not until the end of his life in Mobile; living the life of a transient, that he started to do drawings and paintings of the scenes and people around him. He spent his days sitting on a sidewalk painting and putting out his pictures for people to see.
His art to me seems to illuminate the position of the observer not contained by one’s physical environment. Perhaps he is freed to expand beyond his experience and beyond his own physicality through observation and imagination.
It is our bodies that contain us, but we also try to contain them. We buy property, build homes, hire designers and purchase things to help us contain our bodies. By doing this, we also expand our body and our psychic importance through these things–what we buy and build– to become part of our singular narrative. These things work to develop the expansion of our narratives. We make a mark and people see the mark and recognize and relate in what ever capacity one is able.
We also, in this same vein, have the ability to consciously not choose anything–no one said we have to buy. In this way, we may also expand ourselves beyond our physicality. By taking this route, it might be said that we can expand beyond our things and our four walls; move out beyond the interior environment, to fill up the infinite space around us which is limited only by our imagination.
This is why I’m attracted to Bill Traylor’s work. If you are also attracted to it, these can be found on 1stdibs. Where for hundreds of thousands of dollars, they can be purchased and help you develop your own ever expanding narrative.