Thomas and Friends:
In the British children’s television show ‘Thomas and Friends’, talking trains compete to impress Sir Topham Hatt - the rail controller – with grandiose displays of their useful abilities. When the series first appeared in 1984, the motifs of steel and steam, and social order and productivity, reflected the West’s embedded imperialism. This descends from England’s long history of colonization on through the Industrial Revolution. In my series Thomas and Friends (2014), I overlay abstract painting with line drawings lifted from the pages of Thomas and Friends coloring books. Blooms of color are flooded and finger-painted on the paper’s surface to evoke a sense of play. These pieces associate coloring—my introduction to art—with art’s relationship to the elementary educational system. In these early encounters, coloring within the lines subtly instills ideas of order. Making this work, I revisit my childhood self to question my current position as an artist, and to continue to ask myself how and whether I am useful.