Cumberland Gallery through April 14
WORDS Leslie Tucker
The daughter of a psychiatrist, I was raised in the Boston area where my early artistic influences included MAD Magazine’s subversiveness, television commercials, and my father’s mysterious profession. From that background, my passion for satire, consumer culture, and decoding human nature emerged.
After I arrived in New York City, it was Warhol’s soup cans and soap pad boxes that drew me into communication arts and consumer packaged goods design. Obsessed by psychological processes, I needed to know why people buy and their thoughts during the consumption process. I was inspired by the idea that I could influence the thoughts and habits of many Americans by graphically manipulating images of commodities.
The #MeToo movement caught me by surprise. I had no idea that what many of us experience would become so public. It has forced a national reckoning. Recent allegations against powerful men have sparked a chain reaction, but this is a movement more fragile than many of us realize. It could all collapse, and we are very fearful about what perilous form it will take. I deploy several visual metaphors to signify peril, from an array of tack-side-up thumb tacks, wasps, and menacing botanicals to hanging clenched fists and dragon slayers. There will be retribution and backlash, but I also think we will look back on this moment as being formative, in the long term.
Today, my visual arts practice examines humanity and has evolved from exploring what we buy, to what we buy into. My artistic goal, like a siren’s song, is to lure my audience with intricate appeal and then, upon closer inspection, to assault with disquieting content. Through juxtaposition and a photo-composite process encompassing thousands of images, I examine how we might learn to navigate our discomforts and disillusionment as a way to understanding, and perhaps transcending, our hypocrisies and our blindness.
The goal of my MANIFESTOS series is to illuminate our conflicts and dualities, inviting viewers to rediscover the underbelly of our humanity and social systems. Each MANIFESTO tableau signifies a public declaration of opinions and motives, containing “text” and image. My preferred surface is Endura Metallic paper; its iridescent finish and rich metallic appearance is my 21st-century nod to medieval gilding. But gilded is not golden—gilded has a sense of a patina covering something else.
As I’ve explored quite a few themes in this series, I’ve been invited to share some personal interpretations.