Damian Stamer

Durham, NC

I paint and draw places close to home, barns and abandoned buildings. As adolescents, my twin brother and I rummaged through rooms filled with secrets, inspecting forgotten objects in search of hidden treasures. Moldy mattresses whispered of sex, drugs, and shelter from the cold.  Adrenaline of discovery often mixed with the fear of being discovered. Even today, standing in these seemingly empty places, you never know if someone had been here twenty years, or twenty minutes ago.

I am undoubtedly comforted by this landscape, and despite my many positive memories, these ruins also represent a past and present I too often did not see.  The industries that brought picturesque curing barns and incredible wealth to a small segment of society were built upon enslavement, oppression, and denial of human rights. These transgressions persist to this day, as well as the power structures that enabled them.

I am shaken by an old barn’s history, yet I find beauty within it. Time is visible here.  Quiet moments near the sublime when afternoon light rakes the grain of a fallen beam, or cloud-like stuffing erupts from a rotten chair.  Violent and tender, this beauty hinges on the delicate nature of existence.  These remnants are, like us, soaked with impermanence.  We cannot escape a similar fate.

I depict these icons of the American South not to monumentalize, but rather to question our identities embedded and reflected within them. Nostalgia, sentimentality, naiveté, violence, loss, guilt, fragility, and complicity coexist, and can prove difficult to reconcile.  What else can I still not see?

Damian Stamer (b. 1982, Durham, NC) received his Master of Fine Arts from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a Jacob K. Javits fellow in 2013 and his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Herberger Institute of Art and Design and Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University as a National Merit scholar in 2007. He also studied at the Hungarian University of Fine Arts as a Fulbright grantee, and the State Academy of Art and Design in Stuttgart, Germany as a Rotary Ambassadorial scholar. Damian's works explore the complicated history of the American South by examining architectural remnants of the power structures that simultaneously enabled both vast wealth creation and oppression of human rights. Searching for what too often remains unspoken and unseen, he interrogates personal and collective memories of the place he calls home. Damian lives and works in Durham, North Carolina.

©SECCA Foundation 2020. All rights reserved.
Website built with Cargo.