“There are three elements in my work; painting, printmaking,
photography, and what emerges is the relationship.”
Because my characters exert their own power and individuality with such force, each piece is charged with emotion. That emotion becomes apparent the moment you seek it out. You realize my characters have gone through a volume of experiences. The emotionality, enthusiasm, and Southern experience apparent in the expression of my characters; sometimes bleak and passive eyes; others, direct and questioning stares are a reflection of myself and my relationship to that person. My work is a question of identifying with my characters – you must respond to their realness – to what they bring to you and what you can bring to them. That’s when the communication takes place. The viewer holds the final step in completing the piece – to respond to us both.
“… my characters have gone through a volume of experiences.”
“H.C. Porter depicts people in ordinary settings; a woman shelling peas, a man sitting on his front porch, kids playing basketball.” The artist’s statement reads, “… my characters have gone through a volume of experiences.” The same is true of Porter herself. Her work has attracted noteworthy attention for its quality and sometimes controversial content.
Her mixed-media paintings begin as black and white portraits of her Millsaps Avenue neighbors, where she has been working since 1987. Using a printing technique called serigraphy, Porter screens her photographs onto paper and begins painting. It is an unusual process but it’s one that reflects a way of life. Beneath the vibrant colors are the black and white images that begin each piece.
” The work I do won’t change the lives represented in my paintings but it does change the viewers who live with my work.
That’s what’s important to me.”
Her unique style began in December of 1992. “The neighborhood kids have always been an ever present presence around my studio”. Early impromptu coloring sessions triggered the idea for “Avenue for Art”, a grant-funded neighborhood art project teaching the importance of art, how to appreciate it and the opportunity to express their creativity through art. For five summers Porter worked with the kids, ages 8-12, taking photographs of many of them which she would later find creeping into her work.
You wouldn’t believe how many people expect me to be a black male. When they see my work and the name H.C. Porter from Jackson, Mississippi, they just expect me to be someone else,” says Porter. As Mississippi’s Pulitzer prize winning author, Eudora Welty, has written of her own photographs taken in Mississippi in the 1930’s, “…the photographs of black persons by a white person may not testify soon again to such intimacy.” However, it is evident from Porter’s work that she is “…moving through the scene openly and yet invisible” because she is “part of it, taken for granted” as Ms. Welty was in her years.