Cameron graduates this week, a studio art scholar at University of Virginia.
I write these words with all the trepidation of any parent. They are the clarion call of transition. For him, it is transition to adulthood – the continued “large steps” in the great adventure of becoming him. For his mother and me, it is a bittersweet transition from active parentage. He is always our son, but he is no longer our child.
His graduation synchronizes with our great relocation, a thousand miles west to North Texas. At the same time as Cameron was mounting his spectacular fourth year art show, I was cleaning out the collected clutter of sixteen years in our old house. In Cameron’s room especially, untouched for the better part of a childhood, I felt that I was dismantling whole worlds. With his permission if not his wholehearted endorsement, collections of tiny cars were moved out, armies of plastic soldiers were demobilized and Lego structures designed for the intricate topology of his imagination were dismantled.
One aspect of the move that cheered was the opportunity to review his artistic journey, at least in the part that had been preserved by active collection and hoarding. Works from grade school are stacked with projects from college. High school art meets art school work. This fortuitous juxtaposition demonstrates his artistic voice as a continuum.
Cameron’s imagination has never been limited by constants. His artistic eye has always played with shape and pattern as his creativity explored different materials and structures. I see the same experimentation in his earliest pieces – all colors and textures, exploring the contrast of shape and hue - that I think are the hallmark of his more recent work. I can find it also in compiled art compilations like a coat hanger “Don Quixote” or masks made from soda cans (a lot of strange liquids were consumed for that project).
The accidental retrospective was most compelling in seeing his current show. As always, Cameron uses a broad variety of techniques and media, from prints to collage to painting. In each set and each individual piece is tension – between colors, between shapes, between positive and negative spaces, between the outwardly stated and the implied. Even recognizable shapes – faces, hands, a car – are given new roles in the narrative through challenging placement within a work, within a series, within the whole show. The current art seems to be the logical extension of his elementary school pattern studies – polished and mature but completed with the same playful insouciance.
I am so proud of Cameron’s achievement’s as an artist and a person. And I feel so blessed for the unique perspective that I have in the viewing of his accomplishments. No one else at his show besides his mother and I could see his art through the filter of twenty-two years of its creation. This may be the truest joy of parenthood.
I returned to the old house and careful packed all of the artwork. The traces of an evolution need to be preserved.