In my recent work, popular culture references have become a predominant theme. Things like the imagery we produce to exchange in text message interactions; this includes the apps we use to communicate with and those we use to alter our photographs on a cell phone, images of television celebrities that we as a culture have come to know for better or worse, and popular advertisements of the past that have made an impact on me personally and on my generation. I am interested in the way we experience this imagery in America, and the way some types of images we produce as a culture are fleeting, and how some commercial images become iconic and long-lasting. In the youth culture of the 1990s, a magazine advertisement could be torn out and placed on a bedroom wall. This behavior was a common occurrence with young people. We could physically surround ourselves with this type of printed imagery, and in a way, it was a method of beginning to define ourselves in our formative years. This activity has become less prominent with each generation. The rise of digital media has completely changed our relationship with images. No longer tangible, these images are something we see in passing on screens. They are quickly forgotten as we scroll and consume an almost endless amount of new imagery. I would like for my work to be a way to slow down the viewer again and to bring a translation of these images back into physical form.
I primarily use oil based colored pencil to make realistic drawings of these subjects. These drawings are typically small in scale which is akin to the content I’m appropriating. I find that this also becomes a more intimate experience for the viewer as they move in to see the details. I begin each drawing by choosing the photographic reference, and I meticulously render them faithfully onto museum board. This is a labor-intensive process, and through it, I feel I’m giving new longevity to these fleeting images. I also use drawing as a way to get closer to the subject matter. The time invested in the act of drawing lets you become familiarized with every aspect of the image. There is also a surface quality that I’m after for the completed works, and working with colored pencil provides it. This dense build-up of oil-based colored pencil, wax blenders, and chemical thinners in combination have a different character than other mediums. There is a soft feeling to this application of materials that for me has an almost dreamlike quality. I like to think of this softness as being like a haze through which we see a memory.
In my current series of drawings, I’ve pulled from commercial advertisements for perfume. These are images from the mid-aughts, a time that saw a sharp decline in popular printed media. They depict celebrities showcasing the specific fragrances they endorse. While they may not always be directly related to my personal experience, they represent the types of imagery that would resonate with young people in the same way others had with me. This concept has started leading me to begin using imagery from other more wide-ranging sources relevant to youth culture. These sources include ephemera like vintage beauty ads, heavy metal music magazines, punk rock flyers, pro -wrestling magazines, and monster truck posters. I’ve begun to cull information about the types of imagery other people had hanging on the walls of their bedrooms. This inquiry has produced a catalog of widely varying images and subjects, and I find that variety fascinating. I’d like for this new work to point to a broader picture of that time, and the impact images had in shaping us then.