George Washington, the illustrious founding father whose image has been memorialized in both high-art painting and the everyday currency of the dollar bill, is a frequent subject of mine.
Says Emily Warner:
A frequent subject is George Washington, the illustrious founding father whose image has been memorialized in both high-art history painting and the everyday currency of the dollar bill. This is precisely the juncture from which Clark’s own portraits depart. His Caunotaucarius (George Washington), 1990-1998, takes the 1796 Gilbert Stuart painting (the visage reproduced on the one-dollar bill) as its model, rendering the familiar features with a rash of unfamiliar handlings: pointillist dots and map-like color areas in the face and hair, and painterly scrawls in blue and purple in the background. Clark both stresses the mass-printed flatness of the figure, painting in, for example, graphic cross-hatchings to render shadows, and endows it with a new coloristic intensity. Written at the bottom of the canvas like the title of an official portrait bust is the name “Caunotaucarius,” the Native American epithet for the president meaning “Town Taker.” With this second narrative inserted, the familiar Washington slips into a different sort of role, his steady presidential gaze shading into one of unnerving complicity.
Much of my work is about putting new endings onto old stories. Being a Native American, from Cherokee and Powhatan descent – my works recasts the history of America from that perspective. Like Christopher Columbus before him, George Washington is no hero.