Dionne Haroutunian

Outside My Helmet

Abodes   Archival Digital print and intaglio

Outside My Helmet
A series of prints inspired by my motorcycle journeys

One of the most significant ways that I comprehend the world is by riding my motorcycle everywhere. It’s a remarkable mode of travel because it removes the separation between my environment and myself. When I ride, I experience the landscape through my senses, instead of simply observing it from a distance.

Just like a ribbon out of control, the road unravels through hills and plains, follows rivers and lakeshores with a sensuality matched by the intensity of focus that riding a motorcycle demands. For the duration of the ride, I become an integral part of my surroundings, as though I am living inside a painting.

Another critical aspect of motorcycling for me is that the probability for chance meetings and unexpected discoveries are increased; people tend to gravitate toward motorcyclists and strike up conversations. They might unveil insightful local information or feel compelled to share personal stories. These fortuitous exchanges contribute to my overall sense of connection and fulfillment as I am traveling.

The prints in this exhibit were inspired by a month-long stay in Wyoming as an artist in residence at Jentel’s. While soaking up local culture, I visited battlefields, read history books, hung out at local cafés, drew, printed, photographed and hiked in places that had been essential to American Indian tribes before the White Man came. I had the privilege to witness a South Dakota buffalo roundup, where I saw cowboys gather a herd of 1,500 animals in a few hours. These experiences shifted my intellectual knowledge of the events that took place in our country 250 years ago into a powerful and visceral understanding.

Each time I return to my studio, my fascination with people, their stories and the landscapes they live in, as well as the myriad of details I have seen and felt through the small opening of my helmet, combine to fuel my imagination and creativity.

I am continually faced with the paradox that comes from my longing to capture the infinity of the world I have experienced while riding, onto a piece of paper.

January 2012

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