Final Presentation

Thesis: Graphics and imagery range in an enormous amount of diversity.  From realism to abstraction, we find that both have a very powerful impact.  Within these two terms, one will find objectivity versus subjectivity.  A view of truth and reality opposed to experience and emotion.  Does one surpass the other?  For my project, I intend to focus on the impact of imagery through the use of Photography and digital manipulation to engage the viewer in varying ways.

While finishing my mid semester presentation, I felt I still had questions that needed to be answered.  Conceptually, I wanted to portray the big picture.  By doing so, I found myself asking important questions like who’s watching us and in what ways are they doing so, and on the flip-side, who’s attempting to stop it and stand up for our citizens?  From performing my research I came across, of course, the NSA (national security agency).  The NSA is a major player in all things privacy and invading it.  From there, I chose to look up programs in which the NSA does so, such as: Optic Nerve, PRISM, and X-KEYSCORE.  These elements are something we are all currently going through (and may not even know it) and I wanted to incorporate these elements into my poster.

Ultimately, I decided as a whole, this poster would be made up of two posters merged into one: the NSA on top, and the key opposers on bottom.  I also wanted to incorporate quotes from from people on both sides of the spectrum in relation to this very issue.

After researching the NSA, I wanted to research the opposers to the NSA and the actions they are taking.  This led me to two key players, the hacker group Anonymous and famous whistleblower Edward Snowden.  Anonymous is a more radical group, taking on many issues they disapprove of, and the famous Snowden who gave up the NSA and their secrets.  On my poster I wanted to merge these two identities into one.  My final product is shown here:


I chose to incorporate elements like the NSA logo, the PRISM logo, and even a webcam in spirit of the Optic Nerve program. Then, from this, I wanted to go more in depth with the imagery and from all of this research it felt as though the NSA is the puppet master and we are the puppets; they are controlling and many of us are merely followers.  On the bottom half was where I chose the image of Edward Snowden as well as the Guy Fawkes mask (worn by Anonymous).  These people are cutting the strings in which we are being held by.  They are giving us the information in order for us to make a change.  For all of these elements combined, I chose to work with a lot of blending modes in Photoshop.  To me, these allow for a more dynamic and interesting combination of imagery, in which I believe I achieved.

After finishing the poster, I felt like I wasn’t quite finished.  I was not done with this topic and I wanted to expand it further, so I chose to continue my research.  In doing so, I came across certain videos that I felt would speak to an audience about this situation.  Sometimes words speak more to an audience than just imagery.  The video seems to put this situation into a more realistic perspective of what is happening around us.  I decided to make my own video in Premiere and combine these different videos, which I found inspiring, as a sort of montage.  For the audience to access this video, I put a QR code on the poster.  I took clips from an anonymous video, the hacker wars trailer, audio from v for vendetta, and a clip from an Edward Snowden video.  All of these elements combined allow for a deeper insight into this crucial issue of privacy.


Finally, where do these images belong? My first thought was in a gallery setting; mounted on a wall in a crisp, clean environment.  It’s almost ironic for these pieces to be in such a place due to the gravity of the situation and how it is not so clean and crisp, yet contaminated and corrupt.  This may make for an interesting setting for these pieces to live in, but I do not think this is best.  I decide to take note of how street artists work.  Their work belongs in the streets and to the people, and I think this, along with my other posters, should do the same.  As a student, and a silent radical of sorts, I do not think it is in the best interest for me to put my work on a random building (especially due to legality), so I decided to bring my poster in Photoshop and superimpose it onto a wall:


To superimpose this image, I started out using a blending mode and then using the perspective function in Photoshop.  It was a little difficult to work with in order to get the right angle, but I think I did a decent job on it.  I didn’t want to pick an image of a wall straight on because I wanted more of a challenge.  Also, I duplicated the image and erased certain areas in order to make it seem as though the poster had been there for a while.

Overall, I believe I achieved the goal of my thesis. To answer the question in my thesis, I would have to say that realism and abstraction do not surpass each other, yet assist one another.  It’s interesting to note that before doing this project I believed that the two terms were so different.  While one had subjectivity, the other had objectivity.  I do not believe this any longer.  I believe the lines are blurred between the two.  An image may appear to be depicting truth and reality, yet I think this is how it is interpreted.  For example, the truth and reality stems from an experience or emotion.  For example, a photograph may seem objective, but put in the right context, it can have a serious emotional tones.

This project allowed me to finish off my career here at Penn State Abington strong.  I’ve realized it’s important to question things and not merely accept things for what they are, and really pay attention to what is happening in the world around us, and most importantly, what is effecting you.  It is also important to recognize those people willing to stand up for our rights and freedoms.  I do not believe that I will take such radical steps in hopes to change our society, but merely displaying the knowledge is a step in the right direction.


Curatorial Creativity

Discrimination is a crucial issue in contemporary American society. Not only is our society faced with this issue, but discrimination takes many forms: from race, age, sex, religion, and more. An even more astounding fact is that each one of us has come in contact with this very issue in many ways. Within this exhibition are artworks associated with discrimination; each speaking volumes of this crucial issue. These artists and their artworks allow for a personal insight into their discriminations as well as the discrimination observed in their lives.

List of Works:

  • Edith Birkin “A Camp of Twins-Auschwitz”
  • Norman Rockwell “The Problem We All Live With”
  • Barbara Kruger “Untitled (You Are Not Yourself)”
  • Guerilla Girls “We Sell White Bread”
  • Guerilla Girls “Do Women Have To Be Naked To Get Into The Met. Museum?”
  • Lorna Simpson “She”
  • Roger Shimomura “Housing Discrmination”
  • Banksy “Title Unknown”

16_IWM_ART_015588_lge shimo_housing_discrimination

Module 6

Postmodernism is the PAST.

We are an attitude; a force to be reckoned with.

We do not conform to your standards.

Postmodernism is an ongoing movement.

We are changing.

We are adapting; taking on new form.

Breaking rules and breaking order.

We live in a world of social change.

War. Rights. Government. Technology.

We are skeptics.

Postmodernism is the NOW.

Artist Statement Redux

As Shepard Fairey states, “I’m a product of the era of mass production and the mass culture it has created.” I can only say the same of myself. Being consumed by this era has allowed my artwork, over the years, to fall into the category of graphic design. I remember starting out drawing as a young child and progressing to working with the computer to create my artwork. With graphic design comes a different form of creative processes. I may use a sketchbook initially, whether in hand or on the computer, and begin to utilize the wonderful word of Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. My passion of graphic design stems from not only the world we live in, but I am able to express differently than the art we once knew. We all live in a digital age and within this digital age comes a great deal of exploration. Within this exploration comes meaning. I find my artistic voice. I am able to voice my work, not only for myself, but I am able to create a voice and interpretation from the viewer. As an artist and designer, I find my influences arise from other people’s artworks as well as my surroundings. I love to embrace other artist’s work, which ultimately creates a spark within my own. As Jim Jarmusch says, “Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination.” I do not condone stealing work, but it does help to analyze the work of others in order to get your creativity flowing. As for my surroundings, I look upon our culture and current events. This allows for a creation of not only a voice but a story as well. This story is a relation to one another because we are all living it. From this influence comes an engagement with society, but also creating work in which we can all relate to in some way, shape, or form. All of these things combined, from beginning to end, comes a sense of hesitation. I am constantly uncertain about my work. With all the art displayed in the world, it is east to feel inferior, and most of the time this is the case. The important thing to learn is to gain confidence within the artwork you’ve created and remember: there are no rights and wrongs. Do what you love and keep moving forward creating art.

Module 5

Postmodernism has been around for quite some time. Starting in the 1960’s, it is one of the few theories that has remained with artists for such a long period of time. Now though, some believe Postmodernism has died. Is this the case? I do not believe so. Postmodernism is an attitude. With this attitude comes the breaking of rules and losing formality. With artists work today, and such equalities between what was happening then and now, I believe some artists still carry this ‘attitude.’ If even one artist is practicing this theory within their work, I do not think it is fair to say that Postmodernism has died. Even though I may feel this way, I cannot necessarily say that we do not need a post-postmodernism. I think within the art world, why not have both? Not all artists fall into the range of postmodernism so, in turn, theorists may need to create more theories to fit other artists. For example, Alex Kirby’s ‘pseudo-postmodernism’ may fit into the work of some artists; an individual’s actions may be necessary for the artwork created, in which postmodernism may not quite fit.  If an artist is practicing postmodernism, I cannot say that Pluralism is the end all be all to contemporary art. Art is not black and white. Art has many gray areas in which are hard to define. I believe that many people feel the need to put labels on art to feel more comfortable, but I do not think this is necessary. An artist should be able to define their own art (i.e a manifesto), and not be bound by the constraints that any theory may hold. All contemporary work is different; therefore, Pluralism cannot be used to box in all artists.

Also, within Postmodernism, comes theoretical framework such as post-structuralism, semiotics, and deconstruction. These terms still remain relevant today, but I do think it would be fair to say there are things we could add, for example, skepticism, irony, and metanarratives. These are all incredibly relevant for today’s societies. From the dichotomy between words and our society ultimately seeking a social change (post-structuralism) may lead to skepticism and irony within an artist and their work. This social change will most likely remain relevant throughout time because we all have different views on things, which in turn, may lead to a necessary unraveling of the order we are so accustomed to. For example, one of my favorite artists can be considered postmodern: Banksy. He not only uses skepticism and irony in his work, but he also breaks the rules with his material choice and how he creates his artwork. Most of all, his works create small narratives, rather than conforming to the idea of the grand narrative.

All in all, postmodernism is an important theory in art. Whether someone believes it is alive and well or has completely been defeated, is an interesting argument. From our list in class from Wednesday November 12th, it was interesting to note how many similarities are between what happened to spark postmodernism in the 1960’s and what is happening in our current society. Postmodernism has clearly made an impact in the art world.

Photogallery 2

Art is a memory. Not only does art create memory but art also informs memory. By this, art can create a lasting memory in your mind, but can also bring about memories and connect them with one another. On November 1st, 2014, I traveled to the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia. Here, there were four different exhibitions being shown, and they were all different in their own right. From traveling to this museum, I realized that having a personal firsthand experience with the artwork itself allowed my brain to create a more vivid memory. If I were to see these exhibitions online, I may have had a less vivid memory or may have been more prone to forgetting the artwork altogether. When confronted with art firsthand you take the time to really look, whereas on the internet, we have such a tendency to click onto the next without taking it in fully. By going to the ICA museum, I was able to get up close to the artwork, and like my previous photo gallery, have a tangible experience. My memory of the artwork recalls size, shape, colors, and materials. Some were basic and others more “out of the box.” My memory of the art allowed me to inform myself of the artwork that I enjoyed and artwork that I did not. To be honest, my experience was not the best, which I believe, is why my memory may be so vivid; I recall what I didn’t like instead of what I did at the ICA museum.

The ICA museum triggers my memory by recalling all of the things I did not like, more so because there was not much that I did enjoy from this experience. I was instantly bombarded by art and artists in which almost felt as if it they were trying too hard to be different. These artists had so much to say, but I felt as if I could not grasp their concepts. My memory also informs me of the descriptions of the exhibitions and certain titles in which I could barely comprehend. I may not have completely understood the artworks presented, but I still have respect for the art itself. From this, my memory reminds me how preferential art really is. Not everyone is going to be captivated by the same things, and from this experience, our memories of art can be very different. Since I was clearly not captivated with the exhibitions presented, I tend to focus on what I did not like instead of the things I did; if any at all. Even though I may not have enjoyed the experience at the ICA museum, it allowed me to come to an important point; memories of art may not only be what we like but instead may stick with us because of what we didn’t. Initially going into this experience I was only hoping to write about the positive memories I would have and instead I was completely surprised in my findings. This experience also allowed me to make deductions about the art that I like and the art that I don’t, and even where I like to experience it. I had never realized that galleries might not be my first choice when it comes to viewing artwork. This may even help with the creation and expansion of my own artwork. In conclusion, no matter what the memory, good or bad, our memory helps us in many ways: from informing us to creating new memories. The smallest of impacts can put our memories into perspective and that we should be grateful for.

Module 4

Pluralism/Postmodernism is a very difficult theory to grasp. Pluralism/Postmodernism is an attitude of sorts. This art theory states that art should engage itself with life and reject the formality of art as well as “the rules.” In Postmodernism, interpretation and metaphor is very important. One artist who fits into this category is photographer Cindy Sherman.

Cindy Sherman is a photographer who tends to use herself as the subject matter in her photos. In Sherman’s series the Untitled Film Stills, she impersonates female movie stars from a number of famous roles. Within these works, Sherman claims that she is innocent of theory. I believe that Sherman may in fact be telling the truth. As an artist, sometimes we are not aware of something we are in the process of creating. For example, we may have an idea and the work ends up in a completely different place than originally intended. We could end up starting in one theory (if we so choose) and end up completely in the next. Not all artists are bound by the constraints of theory. Some of us don’t even realize what theory is until we cross paths with it. Terry Barrett quotes Sherman saying, “I work without really pondering what I am doing,” (187). Also, Sherman says, “I don’t want to have to explain myself…I don’t theorize when I work,” (Barrett 188). Sherman claims her work is purely intuitive. I believe because this is considered an earlier series for her, this could be the case. For instance, if I am creating an art piece I don’t think about theory; I do what I like and what I am passionate about. Sherman may have had an idea and the rest came naturally and not necessarily in the form of theory. Though her Untitled Film Stills fit into the Postmodernism category, she may not have necessarily been aware of her actions.

Next, Cindy Sherman is very aware of postmodern theoretical constructs. Does this influence her work? I believe it does. For example, Sherman states, “The only time critical writing really affected my work was when it seemed someone was trying to second guess where I was going next: I would use that to go somewhere else,” (Barrett 187). I believe Sherman may claim that she tries to change her work based on critical analysis, but instead may gravitate towards these analyses and conform her work. For example, in her work the Sex Pictures, Sherman is clearly using a concept from a form of theory: the abject. I believe Sherman may have been innocent of theory in the beginning of her work, but with her later works she is more conscious in conforming to theory. Theory begins to lead her work starting with the Sex Pictures. These works are so “in your face.” I believe Sherman wants to really engage the art with certain ideas and the theory of Postmodernism was the perfect way to do so. Sherman may not want to admit theory is a part of her work because she wants to believe her work only comes naturally. All artists need inspiration at times and sometimes when you are a famous artist it may be hard to let your art that holds no theory ascend into art that does hold theory.

Finally, Theory can be an important part of an artist’s life. I believe an artist should be aware of theory, but not necessarily be guided by it. Theory is an important concept in art and can really be a stepping-stone for an artist to find their voice. On the other hand, I do not think an artist should accept or adapt to any one theory or be led by it. It is important to branch out sometimes and take risks in art. I do not think artists should be ashamed to fit into any one theory or another, but sometimes an artist’s work can appear ‘one-sided’ in doing so. I believe we should all respect theory, but form our own paths. Perhaps create our own theory. Art has many levels and sometimes we need to explore those levels without being confined to theory. As artists we should embrace it, but not be tied down to it.

Barrett, Terry. Why Is That Art?: Aesthetics and Criticism of Contemporary Art. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2011. Print.