“In Tall Cotton”
You can watch Terry Lynn paint. Via the vantage afforded by Instagram and Facebook, you can watch him move through the studio, slather paper with gesso. You can see the speckled buckets and cans of paint arrayed across the floor of his shared studio space in Memphis. You can see works in progress come closer to life. Of course, you can see him elsewhere—as he posts from exhibitions and the areas he frequents around his home, as he takes selfies with fellow artists, most notably his identical twin brother, Jerry—but it’s in the studio where he’s most compelling. The vantage is limited, though, especially if you’re just looking at the past few years.
Until 2013, when Jerry moved to Dallas, much of the brothers’ work had been collaborative (they’d signed the paintings “Twin”). In doing that work, they’d drawn largely on stories about the land, the people who worked it, stories they’d grown up hearing their parents and grandparents tell about life in the Delta. At the time, he says, “our focus was really more about capturing a time period—essentially a memory, so to speak—and reinterpreting that memory or story.”
The more recent work Terry’s been doing, however, tells a different story, as is the case with the painting above. It was a piece that marked, as he says, something of a transition point for his work. Although the setting is very much one you might have seen in his previous work, the little girl—the way she’s dressed, the shoes she wears—is not. She’s more modern than the setting in which she’s standing. In that sense, the painting above marked a departure in his work and helped move him to the place where his work is now.
“My work specifically is kind of looking into the world that I see currently around me: the children, the people, the landscape that is right outside my studio, from the urban environment to the rural areas,” as he says. “All of our work—both my brother’s work and my work—is still about telling stories, just in a different way. Versus capturing images from nostalgic images, I’m dealing with more contemporary, modern-day, modern-time, our current environment and telling those stories. And by telling those stories, we’re always going to be connected to history because we’re living history every minute—becoming history. But it’s just a little bit more about what I see around me today.”