On the Overtones of Place – 2014

Read Artist Statement ↓

All works are acrylic and spray enamel on wood unless otherwise noted. Single small panels are 12½” x 10” x 2¼”. Diptychs are 12½” x 20” x 2¼”
Location (Aftermath of W. by N.E.) is acrylic, spray enamel, ink, graphite on wood, 24” x 72” x 2¾ ”

On the Overtones of Place – Artist Statement


The paintings in the Overtones of Place series began intuitively in relation to a longstanding appreciation of maps, cartography and abstract color patterns. In trying to understand why these things appealed and why these new paintings felt exciting, it became clear that there is such an interesting multiplicity of layers operating when we examine maps. As information, they reference actual places, they are diagrams of urban planning and social design, they are symbols of our ideals and failures regarding human habitat, they are traces of economic patterns and political struggles, they are historical documents and more. But they are equally bearers of memories, emotional associations, travels, pleasures and longings. In addition, maps are simply splendid visual and material objects. While their intellectual properties give us facts and information about geography, their aesthetic properties give us pleasurable graphic and color abstractions rich with pattern and rhythmic syncopation.

All of these layers together are about Place. It is with all these layers that our own histories, feelings, experiences, memories and longings somehow converge, producing meaning. And when these layers convergence on the eye and mind, like complex musical chords, they create overtones, the “overtones of place.” In music, overtones are not the literal notes actually played but the illusory harmonic vibrations stimulated as reverberations by the actual notes played. It is these more elusive and allusive overtones, as they transcend the actual notes played, that give fullness and subtlety—indeed, give meaning—to the experience. Similarly, it is not the actual maps alone that are meaningful. Rather, it is the actual maps made resonant with the reverberations of our feelings and associations—those overtones of our experiences with place—that hopefully make these paintings linger in the viewer’s mind and eye.

–Wayne Roosa