Education, Just Another Commodity

I am notoriously bad at organizing. One would think that technology would make it easy for me, but when it comes to saving things electronically, you’ll find no rhyme or rhythm in the way I name my files or the folders into which they disappear. Sometimes I go through them, make a back-up, delete things obsolete, etc. Today I came across an old artist statement, or at least a version of an artist statement for one exhibition or another. Long before children, neither my work nor my thoughts were preoccupied with education, but after reading this statement, I must say, many of my thoughts and influences could easily describe it. Although education was completely off my radar back then, it is clear to me now that my thoughts regarding commercial interests, propaganda, spectacle, and homogenization can be just as easily be applied to education as to any other market opportunity in the world.

My work explores ideas of spectacle, fetish, and facade. My influences lie in a culture dominated by the propaganda of commercial interests. Media bombardment subjects us to imagery, delusion, and deceit, to which we have become conditioned to respond with an obsessive preoccupation with the alluring promises contained therein.

It is not my intent to recreate advertisements. Rather, my work borrows advertising’s seductive and ubiquitous qualities that give an object its relevance. Colorful, stylized cherries and bananas serve as replacements for the cars, colas, kitchen appliances, and other commodities that permeate our lives. The inherent sexual connotations of these fruits make them ideal symbols of fetish, allure, and seduction. After all, sex sells…doesn’t it?

Media is the language of the spectacle, isolating the people that live within it and disconnecting us from our existence. It becomes difficult to know what is true and what is not. Truth then becomes mediated through the system, making us reliant on what others tell us.

“The Spectacle erases the dividing line between self and world, in that the self, under siege by the presence/ absence of the world, is eventually overwhelmed; it likewise erases the dividing line between true and false, repressing all directly lived truth beneath the real presence of the falsehood maintained by the organization of appearances.” (Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle)

In my work, I utilize the repetition of simple forms—squares, cubes, and grids—to set up my own mediated spaces. Critics of modern architecture describe these regulated, non-varied, fixed, and simple environments as homogenizing and pacifying (the modern office cubicle comes to mind). When you eliminate diversity and transform a space from varied and multidimensional to fixed, you inevitably change the human beings within that space, making them more susceptible to whatever truth is dictated. 

Like advertising, I cannot create a truth through one image. It is for this reason that the subject of these works is obsessively used and reused. In marketing, this is called “branding.” It is a tactic that can be seen in many advertisements these days. Often times, there is no actual product being offered, but rather a desired image associated with a particular brand. One might think of the cherry as my logo in this body of work. Through the combination of the realistic and the abstract, it is my hope to engage the widest possible audience to look beyond the ostensible subject in order to “sell” a multiplicity of ideas and interpretations.

So, by homogenizing the type of education we offer our children, by limiting the diversity in the education they receive, how will we affect these precious individuals? Years down the road, if we do not halt this bad experiment of Common Core and excessive testing, will we regret the changes we will have incited in the way our young people think and learn?

On Display. oil on masonite.

On Display. oil on masonite.

Guarded. oil on masonite

Guarded. oil on masonite

Hey Joe! acrylic, oil, polymer transfers on canvas.

Hey Joe! acrylic, oil, polymer transfers on canvas.

My Cherry Fantasy. oil on canvas.

My Cherry Fantasy. oil on canvas.

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