Local artist honors Memphis’ bicentennial through abstract painting

May 10, 2019

Sue was so excited to paint this piece in honor of Memphis’ bicentennial. The description and meaning of the painting below, which was written by Sue, shares what she feels in her heart about this amazing city.

“This painting is a replica of the way I see Memphis illustrated through abstract shapes and images representing feelings and emotions.The vivid, expressive colors and unique designs cause one’s imagination to explore more than just what the eye can see because after all, Memphis is so much more than what meets the eye. Memphis is a city filled with some of the most talented people I have ever known.

The left side of the painting contains 18 symbols that represent all the new birth and renewal of hope that is coming into Memphis. The big orange ball located at the top left is a defined symbol to portray the fact that Memphis is an amazing sports town. Those who call the Bluff City home rally around our team’s win or loss with the grit and grind mentality. The symbol next to the ball is an electric shock wave that goes through Memphis each time a sport is being played.

Underneath this ball is the washing of the waves of the mighty Mississippi River. Some of these waves are very gentle, while others are all-consuming. The black waves represent the shipping of enslaved African American people to work on the cotton plantations. The red underneath represents the blood that was shed from the Civil War to free the slaves. The black triangle and the orange triangle describe a very divided country.

In the bottom under the black is a boat coming down the Mississippi to bring products for new industry and business expansion that is happening now in Memphis. Let your eye go back up to the top right and you’ll see the five spotlights centering in on the entertainment aspect of Memphis. One light represents the great Memphis music industry, while the second light represents performing arts. The third light represents the amazing culinary creativity in our city, the fourth stands for visual arts and the fifth is culture. Underneath the five spotlights is the famous Beale Street full of excitement. The timelessness of this world-renowned attraction is represented by the hour glass. The symbol under Beale Street is the crossroads sign. Memphis is a crossroads bringing tourists from all over the world to enjoy all the things it has to offer.

Under the crossroads sign is the spiritual side of Memphis. Religious freedom for all has been an important part of the success of the city – freedom to worship and pray. Then, you see a colorful path of stepping stones to pick the flower at the end of the path. This is Memphis in May when all the foliage is in bloom. At the bottom of the path is the white wooden fence protecting the flowers and the beautiful green yard. In the spring, Memphis is beautiful. The yellow on the bottom right, represents peace from the name Memphis, which was given by Andrew Jackson, John Overton and James Winchester, meaning ‘place of good abode.'”