Solo Exhibition, Real Art Ways, Hartford CT 2022
Through her ongoing practice of painting outdoors in the elements, Flood’s work surveys complex layers of extraction, violence, and expression within the American landscape. The artworks in the exhibition were made at Civil War battlefields in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and Chancellorsville, Virginia, and at the US Capitol. These works commune with and bear witness to the land: they look at past scars to grieve, to learn, to forecast future impact, and to keep watch over a country and land in crisis.
Battlegrounds is built around a body of work made over the last year and a half, comprising six paintings and eighteen drawings. Together, these artworks express the chaos of our current national landscape and the emotional weight of the charged terrain Flood depicts. Her black and white ink drawings are tangled and urgent, each a watchful and restless representation of the battlefields as they exist today. Her paintings are atmospheric and embodied, drawing color from witness boulders, local flora, and the earth itself. Their surfaces are gritty reliefs, connoting calluses, cast iron plaques, or imagined burials for those who perished nearby. Her largest painting, “Battlefield (Chancellorsville, summer)”, consists of nine separate panels and incorporates grasses from the battlefield into humid August greens. Combining different vantage points and elevations into one turbulent cycle, it grapples with a painful past and present.
The artist recalls, “This body of work began on July 4, 2020, when I witnessed crowds of armed alt-right militias rallying at Gettysburg National Military Park. Disturbed by the perpetuation of violent nationalism at a site which already has absorbed so much death, I've been concerned that the country is barreling right back to 1863. By setting up to make a drawing in the landscape, I also keep an eye on a wounded place. Working at these sites has taught me about the battles, as well as the politics, histories, and motives of fellow visitors. These landscapes have so much to teach and warn us about, if we look closely."
Two drawings in the exhibition pull our attention to Washington DC. In the context of the other sites represented in this exhibition, Flood shows us that the US Capitol takes on the inheritances of the Civil War. “I made these two drawings on January 3 and 4, 2021, intuiting the violence on the horizon. With the subsequent Capitol insurrection on January 6, I understood my earlier and longstanding inclination to stay vigilant and keep watch as an artist.”