“Many artists are rootless, while others travel far from their roots to find images and places and even objects that catch their eye for creation. Dudley Zopp, whose solo show 'Landscapes, Vessels and Jars' opens at Moremen Gallery this weekend, is one of the latter. Maybe it would be appropriate to say she has multiple root systems.”
This introduction from Eli Keel's interview with me is about as neat a summation of my modus operandi as I’ve ever received, and given my interest in the way plants grow, it hit home. I had to ask myself, in what ways might it be true that a person has multiple root systems? How would she appear? Would she have many legs, each leg with roots into the ground like a banyan tree? Or is the Egyptian Walking Onion a better metaphor? That’s a plant that grows a tall stem that bends over and roots in a new place. And no, I wouldn’t want to be all weedy like Johnson grass, sneaking underground by way of rhizomes.
Are my multiple root systems the result of finding a sense of belonging in various landscapes, as I have done in Newfoundland, Maine, Kentucky, and South Carolina? Or are my root systems both cultural and geographical? When I was in Spain I was captivated by the jars and vessels that lay on the ground at my feet, but in Italy, I sought out views to the far horizon as a way of orienting myself.
You'll find only the most tangential references to human presence in my landscape paintings. And when cultural artifacts catch my eye, it's because earth is the material, as in my painting of the blue olive jar.. A unity of concept - my overarching interest in the way everything we experience relates in one way or another to the earth - is what keeps me on the rails when it comes to subject matter. Hence there is little difference to me in painting a landscape view of La Dogana in Italy, or the olive jars and garden urns that were part of my surroundings in El Bruc, Spain.
Eli's interview appeared in Insider Louisville, "A Conversation between cities, continents, places and objects: Dudley Zopp's 'Landscapes, Vessels and Jars,'" June 7, 2019.