Several years ago, I began collecting vintage produce label art; the colors, patterns and designs used to identify product and brand would keep me visually interested for more time than was necessary, as each label was a beautiful balance between image and text. My partner, Nestor Valdes, was equally inspired by these small works of art and at my suggestion began to paint canvases and floor cloths with his own compositions as a way to connect with a simpler time.
Having relocated to Chattanooga within the year, my initial idea for a show theme had something to do with the river and its associations, since it was the main reason we chose this city over all others. However, it quickly became apparent that these re-imagined label art paintings were making us happy in the studio. With all of the uncertainty going on with the world at large, we believe viewing original art which harkens back to a bygone era of a less complicated America may provide a brief respite,
“I Am Not A Label” may be interpreted literally, as the work in the exhibit neither identifies a current product item nor brand even though compositional elements are mimicked. The title also has additional meanings which are close to my heart. Often, ceramic work is reduced to its function, whether it be bowl, cup, vase, etc. It is my hope that these labels are of secondary importance. Lastly, wherever the art-making journey takes us, both Nestor and I have experienced very circuitous paths as artists (Nestor, from ballet and Colleen, from architecture) which defy any label.