My first engagement with â€śart makingâ€? was when I was five years-old trying to draw Superman with my older brother. To this day I am still fascinated with a graphic image like Superman. Moreover, I am also interested in how something like Superman functions as an icon in popular culture. The themes I have investigated in my art at the University of Minnesota are largely concerned with popular images, either taken from or inspired by mass media imagery. I am interested in how popular culture sees and consumes these images.
I am favor mass media imagery because it reveals popular cultureâ€™s attractions, fears, desires, and insecurities. Mass media imagery in popular culture, or mass images, can also reveal how we use the images communicate aspects of our culture. In my work I have attempted to make these very common images feel strange. In other words, I am trying to approach the uncannyâ€” the dual sense of the strange and familiar. In doing so I hope to jar the connection between what these mass images signify and how they appear in our daily lives. I want to confuse and expand possible interpretations of mass images.
I favor printmaking as a medium for using mass images because multiples allow for the greater dispersal of my own imagery. Prints themselves are an archaic form of mass media. Printmaking, I think, retains the mystique and reverence that often accompanies media such as painting but is not as restricted to its place like painting.
Conversely, I have also been investigating sculpture. Unlike most prints, sculpture is very much connected to place. With regards to my investigation, I can communicate the power of symbolic imagery through a sculpture better than I can through a print. Sculptures made available to the public, such as equestrian statues or public art, become mass images in that the public can see them and consume them.
This act of consumption runs through my work as well. I donâ€™t think that we just passively glance at television ads or these equestrian statues. We consume and digest them (and are often left with a stomach ache). I favor teeth and bees in my work because I think that they are the mass images that are most often used to speak about consumption.
How does this all relate to Superman? My drawing Superman is just a cute story, but it does reflect my attraction and interaction to mass media at an early age. All of us in the United States are bombarded by these images and we should consider how our culture is largely referenced through mass media. This may seem scattered and disjointed, but if I could talk about all of these aspects of popular culture in words I wouldnâ€™t need to make