S. Ross Browne
Virginia Commonwealth University, Communication Arts and Design, Richmond, VA 1987-91
Fresh Air Fund, C.A.P, Adolescent Behavior, Fishkill, NY 1995 and 1996
Corcoran School of the Arts, Photography, Washington, DC, Summer 1984
The Miller School of Albemarle, General Studies, Civil Air Patrol, Charlottesville, VA 1982-1987
Society for the Arts in Healthcare, Conferences, Chicago, IL, Nashville ,TN 2006 and 2007
S. Ross Browne, American, b. 1969 Mt. Vernon, NY
Artist Statement Self Evident Truths
My artwork is a modern study in dichotomy and perception from a historical context using portraiture as the interpretive engine. I explore the nuances that relate to my evolving view of the world and transversely the worlds culminating view of me, through the often-occluding filters of culture and race. My intent is to foment thought and discussion by exploring ‘cultural identity’ via the multiple allegorical streams the paintings provide.
I often use the image of the black woman in unaccustomed/atypical context; derived to create a visual tension between historical fact, misinformation and myth. The viewer is lured into the possible narrative of the depicted figure by her beauty, strength and grace; however immediately enters an intellectual menagerie where they are confounded by the disconnected visual clues. Is she slave or slaveholder? Is she captive or free, is she servant or served? Is she factual or fictional in a historical context? All of these questions and more provide basis for the individual viewers journey of allegorical interpretation.
The images are imbued with cultural and ethnic symbolism that provides insight into the historical context of the painting. Yet, the icons, combined with my personal visual vocabulary, may remain unseen or misread by the “unknowing” eye; the eye that never learned the historic bases for all the possibilities in the lives of these women. In a society that often make instant cultural judgements based on visual cues that are often stereotypical, but not always, I feel offering ethnic imagery that defies common visual library of the modern citizen may challenge each individuals biases and foregone conclusions of their own notions of what race represents in history and therefore in humanity. In some of these paintings there are often the image of a human skull in one way or another. This symbolism is here to remind us of our shared humanity and also as a symbol of change and the very different and personal ways African Americans view and experience transition throughout the course of history.
The images beg the question: Is “Truth” self-evident? Who’s “Truth”? How does knowledge, experience and perception of one’s “self” determine what is evident? If the view of oneself is skewed is it possible to see another clearly?
It is my goal that these images will use technical virtuosity and compelling compositions to make this series visually arresting, but also to help deliver the structured lessons in historical interpretation and omission, African/European cross-cultural influences, and the socio-political impact and power of portraiture.
S. Ross Browne studied Communication Art and Design at Virginia Commonwealth University and Photography at The Corcoran School of the Arts. He is also an alumnus of The Miller School of Albemarle in Charlottesville, Virginia. He has taught art and design for inner city and at risk youth for the Fresh Air Fund of N.Y.C, Weed and Seed, Project Ready and Art 180 of Richmond, VA. He was also an instructor for the Resident Associate Program at the The Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC. During his tenure as the Art Specialist for the VCU Health System, Ross practiced art therapy for and taught art to his various patients with an emphasis on pediatric hematology/oncology, infectious disease and brain injury patients. He is also an illustrator and graphic designer with a long and varied list of clientele. Ross continues to paint and write out of his studio in Richmond, Virginia. In a review of the exhibition Art Fusion in the Richmond Times Dispatch, Special Correspondent, CeCe Bullard wrote; "Browne, always intense and direct, explores the many faces of the American experience in a variety of media, each of which he uses effectively." S. Ross Browne is the recipient numerous awards and honors, has been featured in various local and national media. His work was recently acquired by the internationally recognized Virginia Museum of Fine Art and is in the collection of international, national and local institutions.
S. Ross Browne