Instagram As Art

1810 Stokke

Many of us have witnessed the rise of computers and the internet, cell phones, and social media. For a few years around the turn of the millennium, I refused to own a cell phone. Now it’s like an appendage to my body. 

I was in graduate school and remember signing up for Facebook when it was limited to university student profiles. It’s obviously a different beast now, and today social media has an ambiguous effect on our daily lives with its unique cultural currency of humankind.  

It reflects the human condition, some users taking it to the extreme, posting about every banal daily event, or even planning their vacations around what pictures would look best on Instagram. This contemplation conjures up feelings of isolation and loneliness – some of which I’ve expressed in my series One Hundred Years Of Solitude.

But the social media effect goes on. We’re able to follow people we admire, like athletes, artists, and other celebrities. We can like their posts and even comment on them, giving a false feeling that we’re actually connected and involved in their lives.

Most of these people we will never meet face to face, yet social media makes it so easy to judge our own lives against theirs. We also follow and friend regular people we’ve never met. We see their posts and interact with them via likes, comments, and emojis. They might as well be imaginary, as real as Odysseus or Homer Simpson.

It’s a blurry illusion. An ungraspable haze.

We’re plugged in, connected to the machines. And so it calls on many philosophical questions – what is real? Are these social media connections real people? Who really exists? Do I exist to you? Or does the imagination, and our resulting feelings, encompass everything that is, was, and will ever be?

And so, in this mysterious world of ones and zeroes, by creating something tangible, it helps me make sense of the intangible.  

 Detail shows the iridescent surface.

Detail shows the iridescent surface.

Vulnerabilities Of Truth

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable… A quote by C.S. Lewis.

The notion of being vulnerable might sound like weakness, but knowing the vulnerabilities exist and embracing them fully makes a person strong. To be vulnerable is to be real, for even the strongest, such as tigers, are vulnerable. In the series One Hundred Years Of Solitude, my art focuses on certain themes central to our emotional and social existence and what makes us human.

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The painting is not a depiction of a fantasy. The subjects can be interpreted as metaphors for the fragilities of life — maybe not actual tigers crossing our path, but rather the impediments, emptiness, imminent dangers, deaths, and waning memories, that we all, if we’re being truthful, must inevitably encounter in life, and through which we must make decisions and push forward.

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Dude, stop being so serious

With this piece, I turned a doodle into a painting. The purpose was to create something, well, humorous, while also retaining something more than just a punchline. 

I am sometimes annoyed by the overwhelmingly vague and grandiloquent language used by many folks in the art world to legitimize certain artworks. If they can create enough confusion by linking inexhaustible theories to such language in their art of art-writing, using overused words such as juxtapose, banality, and utilize (instead of use), then I suppose many people think they are smart and unquestionably correct. 

Why is the art world so serious? Is it because of the millions of dollars being exchanged by the few financial elite over a handful of contemporary artworks? Does a work of art really need to be valued as though it's a cure for cancer? 

Here's a middle finger. And the art police are chasing. Take the Ball and Run with It. 18" x 24", oil and acrylic on canvas.

1712 Beach Run Final rdcd3.jpg