3/19/15 5:39 PM
How to know and visually present a blighted place without resorting to the ease of disaster photography? Sage Dawson proposes a number of unexpected methods in “Emblem,” her study of Summerville, a historic neighborhood in Augusta, Georgia built as an elite getaway and today surrounded by low-income housing. These include a tableful of found objects and a wall sculpture of decorative emblems. A pair of prints, so heavily over-painted they look like mosaic or inlay, radiate with visionary forms barely tempered by black foliage and fiery splashes. Dawson explored the area on foot with a custom drawing device strapped to her torso: as she ambled, a piece of dry pastel bobbed up and down on a piece of paper, imprinting it with the staccato rhythm of her footsteps. The results tell no more or less about the neighborhood than did William Anastasi’s earlier pocket drawings, ongoing since the late sixties, made by walking New York City. What they do reveal about Summerville is its accessibility to a pedestrian, a testament to its origins in the late 18th century, when elite environments had not yet evolved to include three-car garages.