2022 Trace Meek self-portrait with painting

The Not-So-Secret Order of the Vidalia Onion

Late in 2022 I was offered an opportunity to display some of my artwork at my town’s public library during the month of January, 2023. I’m always on the lookout for ways to coax my lumbering artmaking practice out of hibernation, so I said yes. I spent many a December evening and weekend making the painting shown here. If you are on Instagram, you can watch a time-lapse video of the painting being made.

The subject matter is a bit of a departure from the kind of painting I’ve been doing over the past few years. I’ve grown (temporarily) disinterested in making my usual stylized landscape paintings. So in this new work I surprised myself by turning back to my roots, creating a composition more whimsical, symbolic, and figurative than much of my recent work. In some ways this new painting resembles work that I made when I was in art school back in the 1990s. I welcome the return of this poetic and experimental slant.

You may ask yourself, “What does this painting mean?” At a high level, it advocates for literacy as a means of unlocking both factual information and fantastical experiences. The Muse is having their mind blown by whatever mystical knowledge is being revealed by the book. (It’s freely-available knowledge; go check it out at your local public library!) The onion is a personal totem—I associate it with myself and my native Atlanta, Georgia roots. (Kudzu comes in as a close second. Peaches and peanuts are also nice, but as symbols they would have been too obvious.) And of course, there is the pursuit of the ever-elusive Mona Lisa smile. Beyond that, dear reader, use your imagination, and interpret the painting however you will.

The Not-So-Secret Order of the Vidalia Onion
2022; Acrylic on rug; 37 by 65 inches. Get in touch if you would like to arrange a viewing.