Under them-there Hills...Mama
Under them-there Hills, Mama… is a site-specific installation informed by Watkins’ upbringing in Carrollton, GA and the contentious history of the American South. Literary techniques such as hyperbole, metaphor, and tone emerge throughout the work drawing connections between social hierarchies, familial relationships, identity, and place. The collapsed, over-sized dining table (left entry way) set mid-meal, draws attention to the family dinner, a tradition in many southern households. Starting with the patriarch and ruler at the head of table (right), you will observe a place set for “proper etiquette” and more than enough food to eat. Then, to his right, sits the next in line with less food and utensils to follow decorum. Sitting across from the head of the table (left), is the matriarch. Her status is a notch down from the king, but alas from her right to left and so on to the center of the table, are descending levels of power. This hierarchy made visible with a gradation of waning resources as this display of organized chaos is paused in time shows an elaborate table setting falling to its demise. Food, splattered paint, and broken glass lie on the floor between a two broken halves. This open narrative is paired with objects of labor such as the broom, the shovel, or the saw, underlining the efforts of hands unseen. These signifiers accompany a pile of crudely deconstructed chair legs which loom over the space from the shadowy far right corner. The alteration of the chair and its legs recur in Watkins’ work, imploring investigation into the ‘object’ and its psychological makeup as it relates to life experience within the scope of history.