• Cameron Welch: Printemps

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  • In his mosaic Printemps (2019), Cameron Welch draws on the ancient tradition of his medium and classical mythology to personify and give form to the season of spring. The artwork is rendered in Welch’s signature style: an amalgam of intricate tilework, classical imagery, and embedded found objects, all overlaid with expressive paint strokes. Printemps stands out among the artist’s recent work with its distinctly vibrant and colorful palette of vivid yellows, reds, and blues. The central figure is awash in color, from the red flower between her teeth, to the green broomstick that forms its stem, to her golden hair cascading out and downwards, like sunrays radiating nourishment to the plant-life below. An energetic stroke of red paint encircles the figure’s body and the flowers she cultivates, linking them in what could be construed as a divine circle of life and rebirth.
    Welch’s practice is heavily invested in the history of the mosaic as a medium, one that reaches back through centuries and offers insight into our very distant past. Mosaics have their own sort of life cycles, weaving in and out of time as they become obscured by the ruins of fallen civilizations, and rediscovered through archeological excavations and anthropological research. This type of chronology lays the foundation for the artist’s broader interest in nonlinear time, which manifests in multifold throughout the artist’s oeuvre.
  • Cameron Welch (American, b. 1990) Printemps, 2019 Oil, Acrylic, Spray Enamel, Glass, Ceramic, and Found Objects on Panel 86 3/4'...

    Cameron Welch (American, b. 1990)

    Printemps, 2019

    Oil, Acrylic, Spray Enamel, Glass, Ceramic, and Found Objects on Panel

    86 3/4" x 74 3/4" (220.5 x 190 cm)

  • The work’s title, Printemps, translates from French as ‘spring’, with roots in the Latin primum tempus, or ‘first time.’ Tracing this linguistic thread back to antiquity, Welch’s Printemps can be located in the tradition of Greco-Roman history and myth. Read through this lens, the central figure of Printemps could be understood as Persephone, the goddess of spring. According to one telling of the myth, Persephone was abducted by Hades while distracted by the beauty of a Narcissus flower sprung from the Underworld. Persephone’s mother Demeter, who loved her daughter dearly, was so devastated by the abduction that she abandoned her duties as the goddess of fertility and agriculture. This threw the world into peril as life began to decay, plunging Earth into its first fall and winter. After months of hardship as Demeter continued fruitlessly to search for her daughter, Zeus intervened to put an end to humankind’s hardship and mandated Persephone be allowed to return from the Underworld. To strike a balance between Hades and Demeter, Zeus mandated that Persephone split her time between the two— six months with her mother, yielding the seasons of spring and summer, and six months with her husband in the Underworld, resulting in the seasons of fall and winter during Persephone’s separation from Demeter. After the despair of being without her daughter for half of the year, every year upon Persephone’s return, Demeter is elated once more, and the Earth again bursts with life in a new spring.


    Welch's Persephone is depicted in the throes of spring admiring a lush bed of flowers. The wealth of floral growth springing from the ground and the bright blue sky above suggests the season is in full bloom, celebrating the reunion between Persephone and Demeter. The loving bond between mother and daughter is amplified by the heart the central figure bears on her chest, similar to the Sacred Heart featured in renderings of the Virgin Mary throughout art history. This different reading from another tradition coexists, rather than conflicts, with Welch’s mythological narrative, overlapping them and imbuing the central figure with yet a new quality, that of sacrifice or purity. In this way, the symbols and imagery Welch employs in his compositions are fluid, mutable in origin and temporality.


    In line with Welch’s interest in nonlinear temporality, the flowers, shown in silhouette, open the work to alternative interpretations. Across his practice, Welch investigates the idea that time unfolds in a nonlinear manner, giving way to multiple—and sometimes contradictory—phenomenon occurring at once. Here, the solid, black stone flowers that emerge from the ground could suggest another timeline at play. Bending downwards, this could be the very moment Persephone gives into the temptation of Narcissus’s flower, becoming vulnerable to Hades’ tricks, and initiating the transition from summer to fall. Yet the vibrance of the colorful palette serves as a comforting reminder that, whatever fate awaits her, like clockwork, spring and hope will come again.

  • Cameron Welch (b. 1990; Indianapolis, IN) draws inspiration from across antiquity and contemporary life to explore and develop new mythologies....
    Cameron Welch (b. 1990; Indianapolis, IN) draws inspiration from across antiquity and contemporary life to explore and develop new mythologies. The artist builds visual narratives with a diverse array of references and symbolism, ranging from the personal – his memories, experiences, and biracial identity – to the collective, mining different cultural and visual traditions from across time. In this way, Welch advances a more contemporary archeology, excavating and reclaiming underrepresented histories in his timeless, monumental compositions.


    The artist's multidisciplinary practice has straddled sculpture, collage and textiles, but in early 2017, Welch transitioned to mosaic as his primary medium. As a child, the artist was introduced to mosaic by his grandmother, an experience that has had lasting impact on the way he works the age-old medium to piece together disparate materials and histories. Welch treats mosaic as a physical manifestation of intertextuality, referring to the colliding contexts he unearths in the work as a kind of "infiltration."


    While Welch's chosen medium evokes ancient traditions, the affect of his work is decidedly contemporary, with his chaotic, jumbled compositions speaking to the same anxiety felt in the Information Age: an era when unlimited information is available at the tap of a screen. Amidst the pictorial chaos of Welch's mosaics, the figures who emerge range from familiar to foreign, comical to heroic. Frequently depicting himself and figures from his own life, Welch sheds light on unsung histories within the intricate topology of his works.


    Cameron Welch's work has been exhibited widely throughout the US and abroad, including in group exhibitions at the KAdE Museum in the Netherlands and the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. His work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design. The artist was nominated for the Rema Hort Mann Foundation's Emerging Artist Grant in 2016 and was the recipient of the inaugural One River School Emerging Art Award the same year. Welch presented his first solo exhibition with Yossi Milo Gallery in March of 2022, which received a shining review by Roberta Smith for The New York Times. The artist currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. 

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