Dreaming As I Touch The Sky With Lynn Marshall-Linnemeier

by Cynthia Short


Image result for lynn marshall-linnemeierThe thing about history is that it is hardly ever monotone. There are many different impacts of every event; there are numerous sides to even the smallest stories. There’s a certain richness that can’t be conveyed through a single thought process or medium. Artists are individuals who draw and juxtapose the past with the now, until it is realized that they are often one in the same. Multimedia artists are particularly gifted at conveying the depth of this relationship and fairly presenting all its avenues.

As illustrated by the artist in question, this practice requires vast cultural knowledge and genuine appreciation of each and every component.

Lynn Marshall-Linnemeier was born in Southern Pines, North Carolina, a small resort town in the central area of the state. It was originally named Jim Town and was an early incorporated African American town in North Carolina. Despite the municipality’s discontinued existence, West Southern Pines is still a predominantly African American section of the Southern Pines/Pinehurst area.

As a child, Lynn would create stories of knights, dragons and other supernatural beings in need of saving. She would then use her innate creativity to illustrate these stories. She was “always drawing,” whether in her sketchbook or on her house walls with chalk.

Lynn is an honors graduate of the Atlanta College of Art (BFA Photography 1990), with a Masters in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi. She has taught at Agnes Scott College, Spelman and Emory University. She is experienced in site-specific installations and has done large-scale public artwork, though she is mostly known for her mixed-media artwork.

Her hometown has Southern and African storytelling roots, which have greatly inspired her works. Her Journey Projects incorporated these themes to create installations. In her blog, she admits to spending most of her life researching “black sanctuaries” – places formed out of resistance to discrimination and violence, in places like Mound Bayou, Mississippi; Eatonville, Florida; Muguga, Kenya; Adelaide and Point Pearce, South Australia.

In these places, black business owners sold food, gas and good times in spite of segregation, Jim Crow laws, and colonization. Later, she realized that she was born in such an area and came to believe that we exist in the somewhat parallel universe that occurs between anthropological science and creativity fueled by memories.

Marshall-Linnemeier, Lynn, (Bucolic Dreaming Touch The Sky)

“Bucolic Dreaming Touch The Sky” by Lynn Marshall-Linnemeier

In history, especially in cultured areas, much can be suggestive. Perhaps this explains the artist’s recent works with abstracts. There are some things about the southern experience that are universal. To be too concrete or descriptive of one avenue would be to alienate others from the experience. Take, for example, Bucolic Dreaming Touch the Sky.

Bucolic is defined as “relating to the pleasant aspects of country life.”

When I look at the painting, I think of rural inhabitants looking at the sky. Kids, teens, adults, the elderly. How easy it is to see the stars without skyscrapers and air pollution. The different depths and dimensions of rural life. The piece illustrates how the sky contorts into so many different shapes, depending on the person, their moods, their vision. How you can see the mouths of people before us who wished upon those same stars, seeking to touch their own sky of truth and self realization. It’s almost like they’re speaking, “Join us. Join us,” in the state that birthed the  Roanoke Colony, the land of Sandhills Region and Pepsi Cola pop. The night sky is fickle and willing. There is the sense of being in one’s own world with the fresh, pure night, digressions from the concrete and known. Perhaps a sanctuary all of its own.

Marshall-Linnemeier, Lynn, (In the Morning There Was a Compass)

“In the Morning There Was a Compass” by Lynn Marshall-Linnemeier

I think of  In the Morning There Was a Compass as the morning after Bucolic Dreaming Touch the Sky. The background is much brighter, signaling the morning’s  arrival. The colors from Bucolic Dreaming remain, though restricted.  The wide black line through the middle seems to be pointing somewhere. It’s rather poignant. It pays homage to those that sought their dreams before this generation was even thought of. It urges those alive today to do the same. All the dreams and longing you spilled against the chalkboard of the previous night’s sky, in a world of your own creation. What are you going to do about it now? The southern sun is both welcoming and insistent, brutal in its love. Who are you when it’s time to live your dreams?

Linnemeier’s artworks involve returns to her childhood, largely impacted by her father, who was the only black disc jockey in Moore Country, North Carolina during that time. He was a musician and could read music. He was also an engineer, having wired the radio station where he worked. Lynn spent innumerable hours looking at wires, lights, filaments. She followed him everywhere, even in his footsteps, loving science and the arts.

“The invisible world is all around us. Dark matter, dark energy is everywhere,” She states, “The dining room table at the small house on West Wisconsin Avenue has transformed into my lab, my studio. I grew up!  And I find I can create endless stories in my own language, that is informed by science. “

The impetus behind the abstract is her fascination with Quantum Physics, the invisible world that exists around all of us. Light, energy, photons and electrons, the ability of energy to move in many directions simultaneously. Lynn would hardly consider herself to be a physicist but she imagines she can see the world of the invisible, a place where she can go to escape the visible politics of daily life. These paintings are passageways to another world. Could we take a page out of her book? Transport ourselves to other worlds, recreate ourselves to better adapt, perhaps?  

View more of Lynn’s work at www.buyblackart.com

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Cynthia Short is a high school senior and current summer Fellow at Black Art in America. She has been writing creatively since the age of 12. She specializes in the creation of poetry. Born and raised in Columbus, Georgia, Short has dipped her feet into the theatre and slam poetry scene. She was a competitor at the 2018 Brave New Voices festival, a national slam competition. Her team won Best of Brave New Voices there. She plans to major in English and become an author. #bravenewvoices

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