Kennedy Obsession
Marjorie Barrick Museum, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 2015

Kennedy Obsession is an ongoing work in progress that considers the possibility of collective memory. I was surprised to learn that neurologists often test the memories of older patients by asking them to remember where they were when President Kennedy was assassinated. What is it about this memory that made it so seminal that if you could not remember, it might mean something is wrong with your brain? The common diagnostic question sparked my search for the optimism and tragedy of this era.

I’m interested in images of people responding to the presence and loss of the Kennedys: formal portraits of White House visitors circa 1961-3, crowds assembled to view the President’s motorcade, people lining the tracks of the train carrying Robert F. Kennedy’s body to Arlington Cemetery for burial after his assassination at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on June 5, 1968. The Kennedys almost never appear in my drawings—I want to capture the hope and loss reflected in the faces of anonymous crowds of admirers, witnesses, protestors, mourners transformed by shared experience.

Kennedy Obsession drawings are based on photographs I unearthed in historical archives, including the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, (Thanks to Laurie Austin, Emily Watlington for their research assistance and to Seth Beckerman for permission to draw from his RFK Train images) and from The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas (Thanks to Krishna Shenoy.)