Scout Austin and The Rubber Raft


Scout Austin talks about a painting that particularly resonated with her during a recent visit to the Worcester Art MuseumThe Rubber Raft

Fellow encaustic artist Kellie Weeks and I recently wandered around the Worcester Museum of Art and viewed paintings until we could no longer input any more information. During our supervised meandering - guards followed us into every gallery - my attention was captivated by Philip Evergood's painting The Rubber Raft. Philip Evergood was an American painter (1901-1973), who apparently was as well known for his politics as for his painting style. A great supporter of workers' rights, he was not adverse to getting arrested numerous times. I was not familiar with his work or his life.
Philip Evergood's painting The Rubber Raft, collection of the Worcester Art Museum.
The Rubber Raft was first shown in the summer of 1945 and was seen as a footnote to World War II - a fact I did not know when I studied the painting, because, as usual, I did not read the entire blurb next to the painting due to my bias against having a painting explained to me before I make up my own mind about it.
I was first drawn to this painting because of its bright colors. The surrounding paintings were much lower key. In addition, I tend to be drawn to works that have at least some representational content because, for me, they contain stories. (And yes I had recently watched the movie "The Life of Pi" so I had the whole possibly being eaten at sea thing already going on in my brain.) I confess to paying little attention to the unfortunate men in the raft. Rather I was intrigued by the grinning sharks who seem to have gotten into the lipstick my mother wore when I was a child. To me they appear to be smiling and singing - possibly some shark show tune. I may actually have subconsciously ignored the men in the raft at first, because I did not see them until I looked closer at the painting. I am not entirely without sympathy for people who end up in a raft in the middle of the ocean, but the sharks are scene stealers.
The Rubber Raft portrays a human tragedy in bright happy colors. I like that type of contradiction and how it encourages a double take or second look at the image.The colors and dynamic brush strokes drew me in, and once there I was confronted with the darker reality of the situation. It is one technique that gets viewers to look at valuable subject matter they might otherwise choose to ignore. 
-Scout Austin     

And now a bit about Scout-
Scout has had many travelled many paths- photographer, graphic designer, practicing attorney- along her journey to becoming a full-time artist.She now resides in Massachusetts and produces encaustic paintings, artist's books, assemblage boxes, prints and other mixed media work.She is a Core Artist member of Fountain Street FIne Art, and shows her work locally and nationally. Find out more about her and her work at scoutaustinfinearts.com