Sourced images of cowboys, cacti, craggy rock formations and other iterations of the western visual vernacular feature heavily in my mixed media collages. These oft-romanticized icons of Americana can reflect a darker side of our nation's past and its reverberations into the present. Considering the ways in which my personal story is informed by a historical narrative of settler-colonialism, institutionalized racism, environmental degradation and normalized toxic masculinity, my collages address themes of social and environmental justice through the lenses of my own gender identity, whiteness, and implicit personal privilege.
Central to my current process is the overarching question: "Who gets to tell whose story?" An open-ended exploration of identity and authenticity, my work attempts to remind the viewer of the power of intentional imagery to influence perceptions of oneself and others. Reflecting on the ways in which I have benefitted from systems of oppression as a white, cis-gendered woman, I believe that addressing our blind spots, however uncomfortable, is a critical step in moving the needle towards social justice. My work is an attempt to make visible that which colonial efforts have attempted to erase from history. I do believe that in accountability lies a possibility for positive change.
– Vanessa Compton