California Case

Based on books from the Sidney Tillim Collection, which is kept within the library of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The library holds an eclectic collection of books accumulated by Tillim, a painter, whose criteria for collecting was to identify historical examples of photomechanical reproduction in print. This aligns with McDougal’s research interests and includes the earliest forms of photography in print from the 1830’s to the 1970’s and the inception of digital imaging.

The collection acts as the conceptual structure for this body of work. Images drawn from such categories as; the natural world, domestic craft, cookbooks, and the theater are the basis for a series of silkscreen paintings and re-staged photographs. Broadly, the project poses the question; How might artists re-animate and articulate new roles for overlooked collections and archives? Within the Tillim collection, the representations of landscape are typically presented as exotic, sublime or a site for leisure. A contemporary response to this is informed by a current understanding of environmental policy such as geological formations and their use as a marker for mineral extraction.

An example of this is the painting titled Anticline. The visual form of this work references a geological feature used to identify favorable locations to extract oil or gas. The work from this series is ongoing and seeks to explore the complexity of the collection, including potential of historical imagery to reflect deeply rooted societal structures within the present.