Welcome to Texas
When I was home in Dallas last winter, my sister, my grandmother, and I sat visiting in my grandmother’s living room. On the mantle above her fireplace hangs a painting by renowned Texas painter, James Ferdinand McCan. The painting illustrates a river bend on the McFaddin Ranch, the ranch where my great-grandfathers worked as the foreman and the accountant, and my great grandmothers served as the school principal and elementary-school teacher. This is the ranch where my grandmother grew up, where she met my grandfather, and where my mother, aunts, and uncles rode horses through the deer thickets and the live oaks during their summer vacations. This painting represents many generations of my family. My grandmother hangs it in her living room with pride. The painting has a significant impact on my sister, who left Texas for a few years to experience the old Southern charm of Oxford, Mississippi, where she attended Ole Miss. Upon her return to Texas, she developed an adoration and respect for her roots. My college experience was spent in Austin, where I studied art at St. Edward’s University. Though I had been living beneath the shadow of our State’s Capitol, I had not yet developed that sense of pride that both my sister and grandmother understood.
The painting spawned a conversation among us. As daughters of the Republic of Texas, we spent the evening recalling our ancestral connections: the role that our legacy has played on the formation of Texas, from our distant cousins fighting in the Texas War of Independence wherein they laid their lives on the line to ensure our freedom, to our generation’s roles as educators, writers, artists and musicians—all in an attempt to ensure that the traditions and the ideals of this great state live on.
As the night crept on, there were more stories. By the end of the night, I felt a new found excitement about my heritage as a Texan, inspiring a desire to share my vision highlighting this pride.
When I think of Texas, many things come to mind: the Dallas skyline, the Capitol building, Willie Nelson, Friday night lights, bluebonnets, Lady Bird Johnson… but when I close my eyes, I envision the majesty and mystique of the animals that exist among us, whose presence defines our landscape and serves as symbols of life and of sustenance. I decided to paint in watercolor in a gray scale in efforts to illustrate the grace and mystique of these animals.
Texas is a big state, and whether someone was born here, or has simply passed through, more than likely, Texas has touched them. I hope that the imagery from the art in this show is able to touch the viewers in a way that allows them to acknowledge the grandeur of the Lone Star State.
…and as my ancestors cried during the Battle of San Jacinto, “Remember the Alamo!”