ARTIST STATEMENT: Farther Land is a sculpture series that poetically addresses the legacy of the ideas of the Founders, Manifest Destiny and Freemasonry. Each of the components in combination symbolically engages the high ideals of the American Revolution and also the penalty for deviation from the Founders stated goals. The sculptural forms and materials are taken from revolutionary era symbolic content: geometric models, torture devices, architectural orders and graphical elements (banners, flags and insignia). Objects in the series respond to the age of revolution and the founders’ declaration that “all men are created equal” with irony and suggestive material content.
Farther Land follows multimedia installation artist Kenseth Armstead’s decade long work on the African-American experience inside the American Revolution entitled SPOOK™. Farther Land extends the perspective of historical figure James Armistead Lafayette as abstraction to contemplate. Armistead Lafayette was a slave who became a double-agent spy during the revolution. Viewed from his angle, the price of American liberty is a complicated subject. How does the freedom fighter slave feel? What objects represent this uncertainty and extended injustice between the fragile lines of a regimented external conflict? The objects explore the alienated vision of the African Diaspora caught between two European factions represented by mysterious signs. The works probe the self-denial and self-censorship necessary to perpetuate the origins myth of meritocracy and the American Dream.
Farther Land deploys coded archetypal signs that are meant to evoke freedom from oppression and ignorance. The vitality of the humor in the artworks will be drawn from the collision of opposing ideas. These same abstracted forms, from a slightly different vantage point, also evoke corruption, patriarchal cynicism, slave labor and empire.