Artborne Magazine November 2016 - Page 24

Dana Hargrove by Jenn Allen What Amazing Places are Right Outside Your Doorstep? – or – How to Become Rooted in a Foreign Land When I first contacted Dana Hargrove, she politely informed me that she would be camping for the following four days and would not have access to WiFi until she returned home. The thought of being completely disconnected sounds amazing, but it is also a frightening thought. Unplugging has become more than just an action; it is now also a state of mind. More people could benefit from cutting themselves off from instant fingertip access to the world, especially before elections. In Central Florida, we are only an hour from beaches, natural springs, nature trails, multiple state parks, and so many lakes. Hargrove, unlike most of us, makes time to escape the concrete and appreciate the beauty of her surroundings— while they are still left mostly untouched. smiling at strangers for no reason other than to be polite, complimenting a stranger’s appearance, and making small talk of weather and politics while in line at the grocery store. Hargrove was taken aback by all of these traits—which on the surface seem inviting and friendly—but the invitation for friendship is never extended beyond these so-called polite encounters. This façade can be found in all aspects of American culture. Old buildings get fresh coats of paint when rustic bricks become exposed, and in some cases they are completely torn down and replaced with something shiny and new. Architecture is completely contrived in the United States; cookie-cutter neighborhoods of prefab houses can be found all over the country for our friendly Americans to live in. The only thing that changes in neighborhoods across the nation is the landscaping. Hargrove has explored digital manipulation—or enhancement, as she calls it—to photography as a way to give new meanings to the landscape surrounding In America, we are taught to be unauthentic: her. Using her neighborhood as a subject, she As a conceptual artist, Hargrove addresses the issues of consumerism vs. nature, and displacement. She uses multiple mediums such as painting, photography, video, and sculpture to create visually fun works of art with deeper meaning. Born and raised in Scotland, Hargrove moved to America to pursue her MFA. The drastic culture change was not easy for her to adapt to. Her work up to that point was site-specific and driven by the natural beauty of her surroundings in Scotland. Of her new life in a college town in Southern Illinois, Hargrove explains, “I wasn’t feeling confident in my surroundings. I didn’t know the history.” It took her a while to understand the culture of this new place. The site-specific work that she had created in Scotland was now considered graffiti and a crime. Turning to more traditional forms of art helped Hargrove cope with her displacement, and also helped her become “rooted” in her new life. Absentia #1, acrylic on beech plywood 23