The paintings are barely bigger than a postage stamp, but their high level of detail nearly takes them off the page.
Woodstock resident Shana Bowes made a series of one square inch acrylic paintings as landmarks of her home after she returned from living out of the state.
The tiny paintings, many of which are pop art-like references to brands like Chick-fil-A and Coca-Cola, are symbols of Bowes’ youth, her college years and her homecoming to the Atlanta area.
“I moved away for 20 years, and then when I moved back, I started reminiscing and going back to old haunts, places I used to hang out. A lot of places were gone, a lot of places had changed. So I took a lot of my favorite memories and reduced it down to one square box and painted,” the artist said. “Every time I flew home, I would make my mom take me to Chick-fil-A; I had to get the fries, so I painted the fries.”
Some people have found a nostalgia in the tiny paintings, remembering places like the old Rich’s department store, where, like the artist, they have had happy memories. Others send them as gifts to loved ones who have moved out of state.
“Everyone absolutely loves them,” she said. “Either it’s a memory or it’s a food that they love. And they summarize Atlanta in a tiny little picture.”
Place, Bowes said, is an important theme throughout her work, and her latest project is a series of birds painted over copies of old maps. The painter said she chooses a map first, and then chooses a bird based on color or which species live in the area. In one of the pieces, a red cardinal stands on a branch over Cherokee, Cobb, the former Milton, Bartow and Paulding counties. A woodpecker sits in front of the Cartersville area. Another painting shows a pigeon in front of the city grid of New York.
“I tend to use the word locality as kind of the theme, the common thread of my work. It’s always about home, place, sense of home, maps, locations,” she said.
Bowes is one of the artists at the newly opened The Cotton Mill Exchange in Canton, and visitors can find prints of her tiny paintings and her birds with maps there. For more information about the artist, visit www.shanabowes.com.