Farm Project Space + Gallery
August 1 - August 12, 2014
President Harry S. Truman was born with no middle name. Unable to decide on an actual name, his parents gave him the middle initial S, to honor and please his grandfathers, Anderson Shipp Truman and Solomon Young. Until Truman became president he in fact did not use a period after his middle initial. Shortly after becoming president the editors of the Chicago Style Manual informed Truman that overlooking a period after his middle initial was improper grammar and set a poor example for America’s youth. From that moment forward Truman signed his name Harry S. Truman.
For S., Trioli investigates the uniqueness of the first several months of the 33rd President of the United States. Truman served his first term with no vice president, his wife and daughter spending most of their time at home in Independence, Missouri, and with a staff that had remained from the Roosevelt Administration. He was isolated during his tenure as Vice President, not even being aware of the Manhattan Project. Upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt on April 12, 1945, Harry S. Truman became President of The United States of America. Between April and August of 1945 Truman guided the end of the war in Europe, attended the Potsdam Conference in Germany, and launched the most remarkable and controversial air strikes on Japan the world had ever seen.
Throughout the eight years of his presidency, Truman hand wrote letters to his wife Bess while they were apart, illustrating their unique relationship in a personal and comfortable dialogue. Bess was often a soundboard for Truman, and he bounced ideas and thoughts off of her, truly valuing her input. It is remarkable to think that they were so in tune with one another regardless of the great distances between them. “My Dear Bessie,” Truman often wrote, words of endearment that we rarely use today as their generation did. Their correspondence through letters left each other hanging on words like the edge of a cliff, and staggering through the empty spaces between each note.
Within the exhibition Trioli captures this dynamic between Harry and Bess with two portraits of the former first couple. Their faces, surrounded by a vastness of black, demonstrate the juxtaposition of the two as the centerpiece of America and the isolation this role produced between them. The portraits are balanced by a variety of contextual media, including imagery from World War II and text pieces that reference Truman’s letters to Bess. Throughout this variety of mediums, the work offers a series of markers, reflecting on these tiny pieces of history and the moments accumulated within the length of a breath.