Sugarhouse Casino is a project slated to be built along the Delaware Riv er in Philadelphia, just north of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. The site was a former Sugar Mill, producing the brand Jack Frost Sugar. The site has been empty of major structures for 10 years. There are many issues that surround this plan: from shady government deals, to real concerns about the future and economy of fishtown. Many people feel strongly about the issue and firmly choose a side. Frequently, arguments from the other side fall on deaf ears.
I painted the field where the casino will be built.
Much like the Nine Mile Run Restoration painting, this landscape is a highly politicized zone that is on the cusp of significant change, both in it's characteristics and it's relationship with the surrounding nature and culture.
The major urban bridge in the distance serves as an icon of this cusp of change, sitting quite incongruously in the distance--the only human structure in the landscape, taking you from here to there. In a certain sense, our own value systems are similar, supporting us as we move and change. Whatever those values are, they will change this space in the near future.
Noel Hefele, Philadelphia Member Since January 2008 Artist Statement Through my painting, I investigate relationships.
Our personal experiences are inseparable from the physical and social environments we find ourselves in. Our actions unavoidably affect and shape our surroundings: there is a narrative of value in this. We have come to a point where these effects cannot be ignored. In urban places, invasive species, watershed and storm water issues, barren brownfields of post-industrial waste, as well as barren, cold, improperly considered inter-personal relationships, are all very real concerns of citizens caught up in the remnant realities of an industrial culture. Our relationships to each other, nature and society are ultimately shaped locally.
There is a dawning global conversation about our relationships amongst ourselves and our responsibilities to the natural world. As an artist and painter, I want to find ways to participate in that dialogue.
I learned how to work, study and practice art in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Since I left there, I have been looking for an artistic and academic community.
I investigate relationships through a practice of looking, caring, and painting. I believe that this can help weave visual narratives that clarify complex issues and contribute to the dialogues between people, culture, place and nature. I want to focus on the role of images in constructing shared values as related to the rapidly changing and paradoxical eco-social landscape. Can painting act as a catalyst to start conversations and develop and spread knowledge? In our dominant social context, how do I, as an artist, deal with ethical issues in my work? Can I develop a language of aesthetics that supports these ethical explorations? These are some of the questions I've been asking myself.