My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys is a series of oil paintings based on my fathers childhood. My father was born in 1941 in Bryan, Texas, and grew up in the segregated south during World War II.
After stumbling upon my grandfather's purple heart, I became very interested in my father's childhood, and began to appreciate that we had a rich family history I knew nothing about. My curiosity snowballed into interviews conducted during long car rides with my father. I quickly became obsessed with the people in his life and began casting them as villains and heroes in my imagination. The car was a perfect venue for our conversations. I would ask unending questions . . . Who was the first girl you ever loved? What was the first movie you ever saw in a theater? Tell me about your mom and, What was it like when Granddaddy went to war?
With his eyes on the road, my dad was surprisingly candid and I began to imagine each person he spoke of as if I knew them. Several months into this process, my dad brought a box of black and white photographs down from the attic and suddenly everyone had a face. Posed, small and colorless, these were not at all the people I had imagined. And so, My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys was born as an attempt to resurrect an experience that had been confined to a shoebox in the attic.
Through this project I honor my fathers unique experience. I have chosen to represent my father as a cowboy; always the protagonist, the cowboy is a sympathetic and relatable character. There is something universally campy and iconic about a little boy in a cowboy costume, which speaks to the spirit of the era. By using a somewhat muted color palette combined with the glimmer of gold leafed details, and working on a small scale, I maintain the feel of old photographs and the precious intimacy of viewing a piece up close.