Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Life in Drag

To a large extent, as adults we have already learned most of life's lessons .  For example, we already know to treat others as we want to be treated; that when you say you will do something, you should honor your word and do it; that we should commit random acts of kindness anonymously.  The list goes on and on.  We have been taught these notions most of our lives.

But why is it when we go out into the world, we forget many of these ideals so quickly?

Although I do not have the answer, I do know that art can have huge impact in keeping us true to life’s golden rules.

Art functions like church.  When you go to church, you may hear a sermon that hits you over the head with a message you already know, but have not heard in such a poignant way.  

Strong art, especially contemporary art with social commentary, offers messages that are often cliché, but with a fresh or unique perspective.  Art provides messages about life that can force you to rethink how you live your life and how you treat others.

I am finishing a new work about humanity which I hope will demonstrate this.  For example, we all wear drag in some form.  I wear preppy clothes; my friend, John, wears tight spandex (ewwww!); a bear friend of mine wears t-shirts and cargo pants; and my buddy, Clint, is a drag queen.  We all tend to wear what feels good to us, and what will allow us to fit into our group of friends. 

In this particular art piece, I have images of firemen, bartenders, “A-List” gays, pregnant women, newlyweds, doctors, drag queens, bears, cubs, otters . . . there are some 300 images of all kinds of people.

So essentially aren't we all in some form of drag—some kind of shell that both protects us from and integrates us into our worlds.  Are we being authentic in choosing the shells that we wear?  Or are we putting on clothes, doing our hair, and wearing makeup that we think will look good to those around us? Or do we choose jobs, like the fireman or policeman, that allow us to perform a role that is comfortable to us?

Art can force us to at least ask the right questions.  What we get from art is hopefully some awareness not only about what is going on around us, but also about what is going on inside our own heads.  This is the power of art.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

New Body of Work: Trompe-l'oeil

I have a new body of work that I will have a show for in the summer/fall that I wanted to describe in detail  for those of you who like photographic art with social commentary.  The premise of the work is that sometimes we are certain that we are looking at something specific, but our personal biases create filters which shape how we see the world.  Our eyes and brain fool us. In French this is called Trompe-l'oeil , which literally means "deceive the eye."  The exhibit with the same name is also about awareness.  It's not so much about what goes on around us, but our notions about ourselves and who and what we are.

I entertain this idea with props and models who appear to be one thing, but really are something else.  I believe as human beings that we often perceive ourselves as one thing (for example, we often like to think of ourselves as grounded and easy-going), but if we were to ask our closest friends how they see us, their description is often very different than ours.

One of my goals for the exhibit is to encourage people after viewing the scene to try to remove any filters they have and be honest about themselves and who and what they are.  The exhibit is as much about self-discovery as it is about the interaction of the models within the set that I have created.

The following individuals who are experts in their respective fields produced the set:
Jim Ferguson (lighting), David Radcliffe (set design), Shantel Davis (make-up and hair), Alex Remington (photography, production).

I will release a few images in the next month for a small preview of the upcoming show.