Virginia’s large-scale landscape, Myriorama, takes its name from a 19th century parlor game of interchangeable cards illustrating idyllic colonial landscapes. For Virginia, the myriorama’s reconfiguration and fragmentation of an idealized terrain parallels the American imagination of our historical landscape as the site of a continually reconfigured past, idealized and devoid of its difficult histories.
An example of a 19th century miryorama collage game of interchangeable colonial landscapes.
As part of her research, Virginia studied the plantation paintings of the British colonial and Antebellum period which typically omitted the role slavery in that landscape. The absence of slavery created a perspective of a genteel Southern society’s unblemished domination of the land, which to this day, typifies Southern-ness in the popular imagination.
Myriorama examines the ongoing absence of historical representation of slavery in the Southern landscape by collaging reproductions of plantation paintings with elements from the contemporary Southern landscape. Virginia used Google Maps Street View to document the former landholdings of her slaveholding ancestors, collaging into Myriorama elements from those places like a Holiday Inn, a golf course, and cell phone tower.
Francis Guy, Perry Hall, 1805
A small test of the interchangeable myriorama sections from Virginia’s landscape.
Image of Virginia’s studio with a to-scale print-out test of the piece prior to the creation of the final work using multiple drawing techniques and mediums.
A detail of the materials and techniques that Colwell is using for Myriorama. Oil pastels, colored pencil, collaged paper and digital print.
A sketch of the ‘framing’ of the works as a series of interchangeable, interactive signs. Colwell will do a small performance piece with these works, traveling to the former landholdings of her family in Texas with 5 people who will order and reorder the work in a simple choreographed sequence at these sites.