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Artist Statement for Kim Du Boise's "Vehicle Visions" Series

          Americans have had a love affair, or at least a fascination, with the automobile since Henry Ford introduced his first one.  Over the past decades, we have changed them as our tastes and fashions have taken different turns.  The car has gotten faster; bigger, then smaller; with more or less chrome depending on the owner’s fancy, and with very shiny exteriors.  Colors have gone from black, white and red, to turquoise, green and even one color called “tangerine,” which was orange.  Status symbol, luxury item or basic transportation, we use them to get around and to express ourselves.

          My own sense about cars began, as it always does I guess, with the fact that it gave me a certain amount of freedom and independence.  I got my first car for my sixteenth birthday − a used, dark navy blue Impala.  I wasn’t allowed to have a “sports” car − it was too small and potentially unsafe.  So, I wasn’t the coolest kid, but it was so much better than driving the family’s farm truck around.  Besides, it could hold the whole first string of my basketball team, so we used it a lot!  So, I suppose I was “cool” enough.

          I got a taste of my first classic car exhibit as an event in a larger festival in Alabama.  I was surprised to see some vehicles as “classics” or “antiques” that had graced some family and friends’ garages while I was growing up!  I learned that vehicles get this designation after only twenty-five years.  The vehicles there ranged from Model “A” Fords to older Pontiac and Chevy coupes.  One could get close and peer into them.  These vehicles were beautifully shiny and had reflective surfaces that mirrored their surroundings.

          The shapes, lines, angles and surfaces drew me in and the reflections were, at times, like looking at fun house mirrors.  I could be very short and dumpy, or tall and very thin.  I was even able to bend where I did not have joints!  The compositions called to me to capture them.  I got the idea of creating a self-portrait study in a larger body of work which depicts something entirely different at first glance − a series of views of cars, as one might see them every day.

          This series began about eight years ago and continues to grow.  It has become a game to see and make the best, most intriguing composition possible and still put at least a part of me in the image somewhere.  Today, the self-portraits are, at times, less evident than in some of the earlier images.  Still, it is a fascination that is as human and real and American as apple pie.


- Kim Du Boise, 2002


View work from the series:

Vehicle Visions