Located within the section titled, Portfolio of Works, are paintings, drawings, installations, graphic narrative commentaries, photographs, works on paper, animated images, assemblages & box art works. Each work is honed & shaped utilizing both traditional and non-traditional creative methods.
Current exhibitions are to be featured under the News heading, while recently created artworks and other art related experiences will be placed in my Blog Postings. Eventually, several of the older artworks I created including older exhibitions (pre-dating 2000) will appear in the Archive section of my website.
The Unguarded Moment
“What we don’t know supports what we do know. ” – Bill Moyer in conversation with Joseph Campbell
The content message imbedded in my visual & written works are prone to be subtler & more contemplative. In saying this, I do realize when creating my art & constructing my poetry in this fashion, I run the potential risk of my works being misunderstood. This said, I prefer to believe in my viewer’s ability to discover the visual clues either housed in the work or narrative text presented in poem or as art titles. In this way, the works on display, along with visual & narrative text, are able to unfold alongside the unique vision of each viewer.
Dorotha Lemeh, The Interpreter, Mixed media on canvas
For some time now, I have come to believe that by crafting these works in this manner, I am better able to extend to viewers an opportunity to consider how the art I produce may operate in their world. Symbolically, due to the image content, many discover that these works operate from the position of one who is recognized as the Other.
Please know that when I am using the word Other in this manner, I am using this term in relation to my understanding of what existentialist philosopher, John Paul Sartre, suggests as being for others as well as being for oneself. His thoughts are really heady stuff. If you like that sort of thing, here is a link to the internet’s Encyclopedia of Philosophy where you are able to read more about the philosopher, John Paul Sartre – https://www.iep.utm.edu/sartre-ex/
Dorotha Lemeh, Reflection, 2016, GNC
I recognize that each individual viewing my visual & written text comes to such works carrying his or her own mythologies, histories, and stories that are deeply buried within. Possibly, this is why Bill Moyer’s comment to Joseph Campbell, “…what we don’t know, supports what we do know” is so appealing to me.
Encapsulated in these works
As for me, through my Graphic Narrative Commentaries (GNC), such as the one above, I am able to critique my own belief systems (being for self) rather than fully ingesting societal forms of understanding (being for others) that I encounter throughout my day. I recognize how entrenched certain socio-cultural beliefs are within all of us, and as such, I understand how such beliefs spring forth when encountering my art. This is why I tend to offer through titles, poetry or wall graphics ways to guide each individual to interpret what is encountered.
By offering other ways of understanding the story-behind-the-stories of what we don’t know, I wish to provide viewing audience members other ways to read, contemplate and interpret our shared human experiences.
My work is not documentary, even when historic references are included in the work. This said, there are times when titles, poetry or wall graphics are offered up as a way to guide viewers through any internal dialogues that are believed to be expressed through the art.
In all cases, it remains up to viewers to unpack nuanced messages derived from their encounter with the art on display.
A Rare Insight into My Thought Process: A Look at artworks Service & Wade in the Water
In recent years, I manage to say very little about the content of my art, and even lesser still, about my thought and creative processes. This said, on this occasion, I am offering to share with all of you, who are now kindly viewing my website, a peek behind my metaphorical creative-thought curtain. I do so in hopes of sharing, rather than imposing, my own point of view concerning the content contained within the artworks, Service & Wade in the Water.
For this special occasion, I am presenting, Service & Wade in the Water, in a Question (Q) & Response (R) format. I believe that this might be a more engaging way for you to consider the content and the subject matter of these 2 artworks. Hopefully, this approach will provide a more informative way in which to visually read and understand the multiple layers existing in the artworks presented. In any case, I do so hope that you enjoy the process. — Dorotha Grace
Dorotha Lemeh, Service, 2016
Photograph, acrylic polymer medium, mirror, tea cup, silver platter, cloth, 30 x 20″ x 6″
Description: A cup is centrally placed on top of a silver platter. A small circular mirror is placed on top of a cracked & partial repaired fine china teacup. The young woman’s reflection appears in the mirrored surface of the cup. When one gazes at both her still and mirrored image she seems to have expelled her breathe.
Q: It is not clear in this particular black & white photograph if this young woman carrying the tray is placing the service tray down or readying herself to pick it up. As viewers, what can we gain from observing this figure in relationship to the tea cup and silver tray?
Q: As viewers, what can we infer from the cracks & hole in the teacup so carefully placed on an elegant, though tarnished, silver platter?
Q: Why do you think that the artist placed the small mirror in the teacup & does this placement serve a particular service? Explain.
R: Rather than provide a single response to this particular question, I am offering up links to a few well written discussions concerning women in domestic service.
Dorotha Lemeh, Wade in the Water, 2016 -17
digital image, acrylics/medium, gesso, white acrylic, mirror, wood (branch), 30” x 20″; with branch & bird cage, varies
Description: The mixed media digital artwork, titled, Wade in the Water, loosely references the ole’ Negro spiritual song of the same name. In the image above, a multi-limbed tree branch serves as a 21st century divining (dowsing) rod. The host (the young woman dressed in black) deftly holds & positions the heavy limb over the boat that is set in the ‘troubled’ water.
Q: After carefully viewing the artwork, Wade in the Water, reading the song lyrics, and then listening to the hauntingly rich voice of Mavis Staples as well as the smooth jazz vocals of Deeper Dimension, how do you as the viewer begin come to understand this particular artwork?
Q: What do you believe are the concerns of the artist, who created this particular piece?
Q: Does the artwork take in to consideration current or future social, environmental, cultural, economic, spiritual, political, or psychology concerns or does this artwork solely address our collective historic past? Explain.
R: As you consider the artwork, Wade in the Water, consider the lyrics in relationship to the work. (See below an excerpt of the song including an external link to the entire lyric.) I also include links to 2 different music recordings of this particular song — one by Mavis Staples and the other by the group called, Deeper Dimensions. Enjoy!
© Dorotha Grace Lemeh
“Wade in the Water, wade in the water children. Wade in the Water.
God’s gonna trouble the water.
Who are those children all dressed in Red?
God’s gonna trouble the water.
Must be the ones that Moses led.
God’s gonna trouble the water.”
Note: Though it is said that Harriet Tubman (also known as the She Moses), used this particular ‘map song’ to assist those seeking freedom to find it, song writers, John Wesley Work, II & Frederick J. Work published a version of, Wade in the Water, which was later sung by the Fisk Jubilee singers, 1901. To learn more about Harriet Tubman, consider viewing CBS Mornings, Harriet Tubman’s Road to Freedom: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ul09jwM9F98
To listen to a soulful rendition of Wade in the Water, look no further than Mavis Staples:
Though if you must look further than the deeply vibrant tones of the rhythm & blues gospel singer Mavis Staples, then might I recommend the contemporary version of “Wade in the Water” sung by the group Deeper Dimensions: