In her 1979 book The White Album, Joan Didion writes, “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” Didion is describing our very human need to document our lives, and how sharing and hearing stories assuages the burden of the existential nature of everyday experience. I consider myself a visual storyteller who playfully and thoughtfully reflects on the minutiae and melancholy of life through drawing.
Each drawing is made with a combination of processes, beginning with the use of an airbrush to create an atmospheric base. The narrative and landscape is constructed in layers with graphite, ink, and gouache, stencils and collage.
In my work, the narratives stem from a personal visual vocabulary, and the repetition of landscape elements such as the moon, sea, and sky. The representation of sea and sky reflects my interest in liminality and the liminal way our thoughts and memories transition to and from one another. Because memory itself creates a strange hierarchy, the arrangement of space and the primary and attendant imagery in each drawing follows the rules of that hierarchy. The way we remember some things over others is not logical; it is mysterious. In memory we are without bodies. Weightless, we are free to float through time.
Culled from mental scraps of actual events, observations, books, stories, and songs, my work invites the viewer to consider our shifting relationship to history and culture and raises questions about the persistence of holding onto certain memories in the face of so much impermanence.
Photo by Robert Muller/CIA
Amber Kempthorn explores memory and cultural mythology through drawing and collage. Her work has been exhibited locally and throughout the United States. She received her B.A. from Hiram College, a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate from the Maryland Institute College of Art, and her M.F.A. in Sculpture from the Cranbrook Academy of Art. Amber holds a Lecturer position In the Visual Arts Department at the Cleveland Institute of Art and is an adjunct faculty member at the College of Wooster. She lives and works in Hiram, Ohio.