In this exhibition of prints, paintings, and sculpture, there is a line drawn between artifact, nature, pattern, and constructed culture. This body of work was initially inspired by a recent study published by University of California, Santa Barbara and Columbia University where a connection was drawn between climate change, the drought that plagued Syria, and the onset of the Syrian civil war. It is noted that in a country such as Syria, marked by an unstable government, unsustainable agriculture, and irresponsible environmental policies, the drought had a catalytic effect and directly contributed to the political unrest and now a refugee crisis. This study stands as proof of the connection between disrupted natural patterns and cultural conflict. This exhibition asks what would we leave behind if the same were to happen in our own community. Sadly this has already started to happen with the droughts, hurricanes, wildfires, etc. This work imagines our daily lives full of brightly colored devices, plastic containers, and insignificant identifiers all to be objectively analyzed years later, objects taken out of context and reimagined into a new narrative - patterns suddenly revealed and our neglect for nature seeming so obvious in hindsight.
Drive By is a series of monoprints based on the American Midwest landscape. The title is intended to suggest the lack of attention such landscapes receive while at the same time pointing to the historically violent connotation through aggressive mark making. The drive by is something that happens without thought of consequence and in the case of the Midwest landscape the consequence of neglecting such a resource would eventually devastate the entire United States.
Moral Order of a Suburb
Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey (2016)
This body of work was inspired by Mary Pat Baumgartner’s book, The Moral Order of a Suburb (1988), in which the author spent a period of time living in a suburb attempting to understand how conflict is addressed and order is achieved in such settings. The text lead to the creation of works which visually represent the chaos and order at odds and in harmony with each other within the constructed suburban landscape. The works depict ambiguous constructions and landscapes which focus on balance, composition, and color versus content. The lack of content highlights the structural elements in play and in the end, the work questions what is more important. Just like in The Moral Order of The Suburb, keeping the peace and maintaining order is often more important than an in-depth discussion of the issues at hand.
Vila P651, Prague, Czech Republic (2015)
The Wilderness of Mirrors
This series of monoprints were produced while living and working in Ankara, Turkey. The title comes from the documentary film, All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace, by Adam Curtis. The Documentary is actually a series of short films about how humans have been colonized by the machines we have built. "Although we don't realize it, the way we see everything in the world today is through the eyes of the computers", says Curtis.
Torun, Ankara, Turkey (2015)
Self-expression is the paradigm of honesty. Creation is slightly suspicious; after all, we can create lies. Imitation is so suspicious that we come to despise resemblance. "You remind me of my ex," will never be a compliment, not because an ex's charms proved insufficient to maintain a bond, but because we want to think that our charms are ours alone. We forgive imitation in children, who learn language by mimicking adults. To master a language, though, they must produce original combinations of words. Monotheists see humans as copies, created in the image of God and thus inferior to God. Gnostic religions go further: the whole world exists as the result of the goddess Wisdom vainly trying to replicate herself. They blame the problems of this world on the goddess’s narcissistic motivation for creating it. Even when God Herself is replicated, imitation produces unwanted results. Islam notoriously forbids making images, mere visual copies, of God and His prophets. “You can’t stop the original with a copy. Sloppy, very sloppy, you slouch,” rapper KRS-One disses his imitators, but that diss could apply to rap’s own essence. Most rap recordings copy beats, rhymes, and inflections from other recordings. Plato damned all art to the extent that it imitates life, but his dialogues imitate Socrates in conversation. Magnificent imitation and fear of defiling the original are twin siblings.
Turkey has mastered a sublime irreverence for authenticity. It embraces reverse engineered products, pirated books, music, and movies, and plagiarized academic work. Copyright laws are widely violated, and dishonesty often goes unpunished. But the innovator’s expense can be the community’s benefit. In the 1970’s, Yeşilçam Studios refined the art of mimicry: they mass-marketed low-budget movies that ripped of American movie plots from Stars Wars to The Exorcist. And you do not have to be Turkish to know how affecting imitative art can be. Many of us experience of captivation when we hear a great cover song. A brilliant interpretation brings us a feeling of intimacy with the source that we either already love, or learn to love when we see it imitated.
Copycat performs imitation in the name of others’ self-expression. We do not see the artist who is enclosed in a wooden copy machine. Unlike a photocopier at an office, which will scan any image, this artist only receives authentic self-expression as input. The human-machine then scans with eyes and draws by hand. We should not think of the input images as the drawings’ originals. After all, they may come from online image searches or selfies—photographs with no photographer. The artist is not imitating an image, but copying someone else’s gesture of self-expression. The resulting drawing refers to your desire to be recognized as a certain kind of person. The human-machine draws to honor your personhood.
Children learn by copying. Adults show admiration by copying. Learning and loving, two of the our most vulnerable moments.
-Spencer Hawkins on Nancy McCormack's performance, Copy Cat (Torun, Ankara, Turkey 2015)