Cam’s Caddy is based on a photograph of Kathleen MacKenzie from the 1950s while on a vacation in the Sullivan County hamlet of Smallwood. “I grew up in the Bronx, so I didn’t spend many summers in the country,” says MacKenzie. “I was so proud to be leaning against this car.” In the original photograph, other kids were pictured in the background. In the painting, MacKenzie homed in on the detail of her with the Cadillac, and added an abstract, expressive backdrop. As is common when recollecting the past, MacKenzie’s memory of her summer in the country isn’t exactly congruous with the details of the moment as it actually happened. Over time, memories blur and transform. Lived experiences become less distinct as you move further away from them.
Memories, MacKenzie notes, are made up of small details that speak volumes about a person’s emotional or psychological state. “Expressions of people’s faces are very important to me,” says MacKenzie, a Tillson-based mixed-media artist who uses old family photographs as inspirations for paintings. “I’m interested in the dynamic between people, or, when individuals are standing alone, the isolation that a person may feel.” In MacKenzie’s paintings, black-and-white images are injected with vibrant color, and certain details are brought in and out of focus, as in a movie—another medium that MacKenzie works in. The process is more than artistic rendering; it’s reflective of the ways in which our minds transform memory—a depiction of the delicate boundary between the real and imagined.
An exhibit of Kathleen MacKenzie’s paintings and drawings, “Significant Details,” will be shown at The Storefront Gallery in Kingston through July 27. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, July 6, 5-8pm.