REBECCA CAMPBELL’s Southern Idaho via Los Angeles
The Potato Eaters series is inspired by Vincent van Gogh’s work of the same name as well as by my own family’s agrarian roots. My mother and father were both raised on potato farms; black and white photos of that time and place serve as inspiration for many of the paintings in this series.
This painting is based on a photograph of two of my aunts sometime between 1935 and 1945. Their family lived in the very small rural town of Rupert in southern Idaho. What I first found striking about this image was the joy and tenderness shared between the figures. The resonance that came more slowly as I sifted through family photos was the context in which this moment erupted.
The family struggled financially supplementing their diet with hunting and fishing. Isolation and prematurity led to the death of their youngest brother. The Second World War meant a Japanese internment camp was established at the edges of their community and the loss of their oldest brother and the patriarch of the family as he was shot down somewhere over Austria.
In the end the power of this image for me lies not just in the presence of joy and affection but in the ability of human beings to uncover joy and protect warmth amidst the never-ending cycle of human tragedy.