Compass: Folk Art in Four Directions
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  • George Widener (b. 1962)
  • Ohio
  • 2007
  • Ink on napkin
  • 48 x 68 1/8 in.
  • American Folk Art Museum, gift of the artist, 2007.18.1

    This year marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic on April 15, 1912. As a teenager, artist George Widener came across a passenger list and learned that one of the victims of the tragedy shared his name. A self-described high-functioning calendar savant, Widener started collecting notable dates in a notebook as a child and finding patterns within the numbers. He had long been fascinated by the Titanic’s history and knew many mathematical facts about the ship. Widener became absorbed with the notion that the ship sank on a Monday and was “mourned on Tuesday.” In this drawing, he has captured that Tuesday mourning in writing, starting on April 16, 1912, and going forward every Tuesday for 700 years. The number of Tuesdays approximately corresponds to the number of people who were rescued from the sinking ship. The monumental drawing is on white paper napkins, a material Widener started using at a time when he could not afford traditional materials. He discovered that he liked the texture of the napkins and pieces them into larger substrates, sometimes staining them with coffee and tea.