April 14: Lincoln was shot. The Titanic hit the iceberg. The Black Sunday dust storm devastated the Midwest. Three major events in U.S. history occurred on the same date, and each are documented in folk and blues songs:
“Booth Killed Lincoln,” a 19th-century folk ballad;
“God Moves on the Water” by Blind Willie Johnson;
“The Great Dust Storm” by Woody Guthrie; and
“Ruination Day, Part II” by Gillian Welch.
Music becomes oral history. Repetition and nuance serve as the foundation upon which collective memory is built.
Through a series of abstract geometric paintings and drawings, I have deconstructed and rebuilt these four songs, transforming the time-based structure of music into simultaneous color pattern. The past and the present and the future all in one abstract space.
But RUINATION DAY is not a documentary.
I am not trying to teach you history. In fact, although the stories are represented in titles and structures, the stories themselves are not really the point. The narrative here isn’t linear.
I am also not trying to teach you translation. Music becomes color, yes; rhythm becomes shape―but that is merely alphabet, not the meaning itself. You don’t need to decode every moment. You don’t need to know the songs in order to see the paintings.
RUINATION DAY is about the architecture of information.
What are the building blocks of history? Of music? Of painting?
RUINATION DAY is muscle memory in your fingers and the echo of a tune you heard once that still rings in your ears. It is music as a vessel we use to carry along what matters.
RUINATION DAY is repetition, nuance, and catastrophe.