Silk and steel
In 2015, Lee Alban embarked on his Silk and Steel series after a photographer friend told him about a photo charter he was setting up at a railroad. On site were women workers and reenactors dressed in Rosie the Riveter-style attire. “It was a really successful shoot, and I came away with a series of photos that would make great paintings celebrating the role of women working with steam locomotives and in railroad workshops,” Alban shares. “I wanted these paintings to provide a strong contrast between the feminine characteristics of the workers and the rugged, powerful machinery that they operated and repaired.”
Since his initial series, Alban has received attention from around the world, particularly from women who work on steam engines and steam farm equipment. They have sent photographs from all over that have inspired new compositions, including Avery Restoration.
The painting was derived from a photograph a friend in Minnesota sent where three women were restoring an 1800s tractor. “I was impressed by how massively huge the tractor is,” Alban says. “I just thought—even though you can’t see their faces, which is what I usually paint—it gave you a chance to really see how big the equipment is.”
Another important component of this series has been a focus on the details. Alban will rely on photographs to include every rod, pipe and connection, so when people who have a vast knowledge of the machines look at the work, they can say the components are rendered precisely.
New works from Silk and Steel will be on view in competitions around the country, as well as in galleries in Texas, Oklahoma and California. For a direct link to the exhibiting gallery go to www.westernartcollector.com
Maintenance and Repair, oil, 30 x 40” Fire in the Boiler, oil, 36 x 24”
Avery Restoration, oil, 30 x 40”