Recent Work by Whitfield Lovell and Visions From the South
BY ERIC D. BOOKHARDT
Whitfield Lovell collects old photographs of African-Americans, often decked out in their best suits and posed formally before the camera. Displaying fine draftsmanship, he recreates their images on wooden planks and then incorporates antique symbolic objects in his eloquent sculptural assemblages. Deuce is emblematic: A black couple from a century ago posed with a Victorian chair. Extending from the front of the sepia wooden planks is a tabletop covered in antique lace and vintage silverware. The vintage objects and eerily photographic images contribute to a resonant sense of “presence” that allows us entry into a time and place different from our own, yet so familiar that we can readily relate. Here we sense their uniqueness as well as something common to us all — and common to our own ancestors — regardless of time, place or ethnicity. In Lenox we see a nattily dressed man looking dignified in a homburg and zoot suit atop a totem of vintage radios, and it’s easy to imagine a personal story for this possible jazz musician. More unsettling is Cut (pictured), a view of a black woman rendered on planks and framed by antique hatchets and wallpaper. Lovell lets our imaginations wander in these skillfully crafted time capsules whose residents graciously invite us in without entirely obscuring their all too human undercurrents.