I have always known New England to be a place that thrives on a dry sense of humor, but who could blame us? “If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute” often rings truer than one might imagine. Our hard emotional exterior often stems from the fact that we deal with, on average, six months of brutal winter, followed by one month of perfection, four months of unbearable heat and humidity, and a month of gorgeous foliage before everything dies again.
New Englanders are overwhelmingly exposed to the notion that life is temporary. Not only do we receive a constant reminder of our own mortality through the change of seasons, but also architecturally, we are immersed in a setting that emphasizes that which has come and gone. We live in houses that are 300 years old, work in buildings that used to be mills and factories, and we pass by monuments erected by the leaders of the 18th and 19th centuries. It’s that sense of history that sets apart, but often chastises New England from the rest of the contemporary art world. Perhaps the lighthouse and covered bridge paintings that often represent the art from this region facilitate a skewed outsider interpretation of what it really means to live in New England.
While I am highly appreciative of the traditional representations of New England I have seen, there’s a raw honesty that always seems to be missing. The paintings that people associate with New England have never depicted the New England I know. The New England I know might not always be so quaint. When I see New England, I see buffalo plaid and “blaze orange”. I see hardened, weather-tough characters that are ready to take on the task at hand. I see broken down trucks that are worth saving, for some reason. I see the humor in 6 months of winter. I see the humor in living in rural New England, and that humor has not only helped me to survive, but has also become my passion.