Devon Nowlin's exhibition Familiar Strangers features new figurative oil paintings supplemented by a selection of three large-scale works from 2010. The earlier works were produced at a time when Nowlin first began to use found photographs of mid-twentieth century Americans as reference material in a series about nostalgia, memory, and longing. In new work, the return to these familiar-yet-distant figures presents the opportunity to reconsider the nature of nostalgia in this current political moment.
New paintings feature portraits of everyday figures from the past combined with imagery borrowed from modern magazine advertisements in layered effects meant to confuse time or place and complicate the reading of a simple, wistful narrative. It is through this layered and collage-like process that Nowlin explores the rift between the past and the present; between an era of collective aspirations with an era of corporately manufactured desires. Also included in the exhibition are smaller works on paper and a textile installation that reinforces the associative connections between time and place, national memory, and class narratives evoked by the larger paintings.
Familiar Strangers is Devon Nowlin's second solo exhibition at Artspace111 and is accompanied by a catalogue review of ten years of Nowlin's work, supported by an essay from Dr. Mark Thistlethwaite, the Kay and Velma Kimbell Chair of Art History at Texas Christian University.