Bringing Good Things to Life

Bringing Good Things to Life

Mixed Media 69" x 60" 1990

"We Bring Good Things To Life"

This all started back in '89... I took this intermediate drawing class at Oberlin, the assignment was to take an artist we could identify with, and then do our own piece from that. The artist chosen was Sue Coe. I did a piece on nuclear testing in the Pacific and the effects of the fallout on the indigenous population. Jellyfish babies, and birth defects. The next assignment one was to take a piece and blow it up. Next assignment was to make it even bigger.

What I was groping for was making some kind of paradox. Taking the image that is produced by the mass media, advertising, how glorious something is, and then contradicting it with horrific images. That's the main theme I've been playing with. How I can take one and contradict the other. The goal is to have advertising fall in on itself. It's what you see in Adbusters all the time.

Greg Little, my teacher, gave me the idea of taking actual billboard paper. The companies I get this stuff from--it's just trash to them. They're eager to give it away, to girl scouts, teachers, anyone who asks.

Another theme is - I really like playing alot with meaning. How does the meaning of an image or words change when you take them out of a context, and put them in another. This one is a crude example. How does the slogan change when placed next to a horrific image.

What's the next level - there is no meaning that is inherent. Thus all people are socialized. Our identities come about because they are socialized. We see who we are in the reflection of what's presented to us.

Questioning the nature of meaning. Can you have any inherent meaning in things? This was my motivation for collage work, there are multiple meanings to bring to it. Not like a 2D photo. It's more vague in a collage, and with the social baggage you bring as a viewer, you are as much involved in creating the meaning for the piece as the artist is.

It's just confusion, we live in chaotic media world, and here's some of it thrown back at you Warhol style.

I'm motivated by radical politics, how people get fucked over and resist. Ideally I'd like my work to inspire people who are already committed, and act as a hook for those not yet committed.

Benefits and liabilities of post-modernism. Smashing everything they see, not just the system.

My inspiration was when post-modernism was more iconoclastic. There've been changes over the years, dark strident hostile is the older stuff. The later stuff is less strident and dogmatic, less militaristic, stuff people can relate to. Not just angst ridden. People know the system is fucked up, and they don't need someone screaming that again in their face, and thus I'm aiming more for a message of hope. Also more personal. Anonymous initially.

When white people do anti-racist anti-imperialist stuff, by nature of being involved in that you're already getting one step out. I deemphasized my identity as a white guy. My stuff is now more personal, sex positive, queer related. Still critique of how the police and state affect our actions. More affirmative, less obvious. Like this - General Electric's environmental record, labor record. Later work more complicated more vague. Trends are changes that I've been going through for the last 7 years. Losing more and more of my anger and hostility over the years, losing the simple equations because the world isn't that simple. I'm more moved also for asthetics just for the sake of asthetics.

Chalk charcoal and spraypaint, found garbage, rebelling against the materials, the legacy of fine art. My art is trash 'cause it's from the trash culture. Trash from art.

The truth comes out in the bathroom stalls, women graffiti is supportive, male is aggressive. Art to intervene.

So much of activism is using old techniques that were bland even when they were in fashion.

I want the artwork to act as bait, history and tactics to act as a hook.

What I imagined a few years ago was doing a travelling exhibit that would touch down at community centers, churches, high schools. Now that I'm closer to doing it, it's one thing, but it's not everything.