Neuberger Museum of Art

Purchase, New York

(914) 251-6100


Roger Welch: Traces of Time


The conceptual, multi-media and installation works of Roger Welch are drawn from popular culture, personal narratives, and memory. These subjects have been springboards for Welch's complex and often ironic art works that delve deeply into the American psyche.

Through May 20, 2001, selected works by the artist are on view at the Neuberger Museum of Art in the exhibition Roger Welch: Traces of Time. His 1982 installation, Drive-In: Second Feature is a sculptural tableau evoking a time when going to the movies and cruising in cars melded into one quintessential experience. Welch has created an exact size 1958 Cadillac Eldorado from tree branches and twigs knotted together. The detailed replica sits before a movie screen of the same construction. The screen projects trailers of 50' s Hollywood movies. "Drive-In" becomes an ethnographic and cultural phenomenon as Welch turns both movie screen and automobile into relics of some "other" civilization. (left: Drive-In: Second Feature, 1982, multi-media installation, life-size 1958 Cadillac Eldorado, tree twigs and twine. size variable, Courtesy of the artist)

Welch has created maps of wood and ink drawn from interviews with elderly individuals as they recalled their childhood hometowns. These Memory Maps portray towns that have been reshaped by the shadows of forgetfulness and the light of memory. Two of Welch' s Memory Maps, completed in 1973, will be on display in the exhibition together with Poet, a photographic work from a 1990 series Austin Children. In this work, Welch photographed a young girl who "wants to be a poet." She sits at a desk once used by the 19th century writer O'Henry, and above her image is Welch's reconstruction of Austin, Texas in 1900. Welch uses the photo negative to duplicate the look of a school blackboard surrounding the little girl, and he redrew the child's sketch of an imaginary place in the future.

Welch' s 1985 Steam Train will also be on view. This work is a large three-dimensional oil painting created on shaped canvas that forms the appearance of a steam locomotive. In the center of this ghostly engine, a commuter waits on a lonely platform at dusk. Welch juxtaposes a new station on one side of the track and a 19th century station on the other.

In his most recent work, The History of Design, Welch continues to explore the themes of time and place. His photographs of young New Yorkers constructing, preparing, and painting a wall is a photographic tableau based on the western pediment of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia.

"My work portrays time, not a linear expression of time but a combination of traces and personal memories that become a completely new experience," Welch comments.

The exhibition is funded, in part, by the Friends of the Neuberger Museum of Art and the Westchester Arts Council.

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This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 5/23/11

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