Welcome to the new homepage of VisualResistance.org. This site will be regularly updated and interactive. Please look around and let us know what you think.
"In my post-election rage I cranked out one piece.... You're welcome to use it on the website, wheat pasting etc. There will be more to come...
Click on the image for an 11x17 poster in PDF format.
"Beta Minus 0001 is an enemy of the state and the status quo. Through his art he attacks the time honored American traditions of nationalism, fascism, militarism, consumerism, sexism, racism and apathy."
Click on the images for 8.5 x 11 posters in jpg format.
Where are you from? Where do you live now? How have these places impacted you as a person and as an artist?
I grew up in Hartford and Deep River, CT. My parents were involved in politics and I have recently realized the impact of their political involvement on me as an artist. I also lived in San Francisco when I was an undergraduate and the painting style of the Bay Area Figurative Artists inspired and formed me as an artist. I learned how to paint in part by looking at the paintings of Richard Diebenkorn, Joan Brown, and David Park. I got to see a lot of their paintings in person by being in SF.
What mediums have you used and which ones would you like to use?
I’ve used oil, sculpture, film, drawing, acrylic, collage, scratchboard, etching, and lithography. I’d like to use silkscreen, woodcut, linocut, video, animation.
Acrylic is my main medium. I make my own colored papers by painting acid-free paper with acrylic paints. I draw on Bristol and when I am satisfied with the image, I use tracing paper to trace the shapes that make up the image. Then I put the tracing paper over the appropriate colored paper and cut out the shape. I use Matte Medium to affix the bits of colored paper to the Bristol. I often go in with colored pencil or Caran D’Ache pencils or wax crayons (china pencils), for the backgrounds or other flat surfaces.
Who do you see as your audience? What kind of responses have you gotten to your work?
My audience is anyone and everyone interested in looking at art. I really appreciate it when people are excited to look at art, which they often are, even if they are not trained in art or art history. There’s been more enthusiasm around my work since I started engaging in a more political frame of reference through my work. I also got a fair amount of attention around large-scale oil paintings I was doing of dogs and cats. I got written up in the Hartford Courant and recently in the Times, for a show I was in in Connecticut. Overall, I would say I’ve gotten an encouraging response.
What you do to pay your bills?
Right now I am in graduate school and am supported by my family. In the past I have taught small children at a pre-school and I’ve worked in an art gallery.
Name some books, music, movies, and artist that you think folks should check out and why.
Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis 2. Her story is riveting and it’s told as a graphic novel, which is amazing- about being an Iranian in Europe. It’s brilliant. Will Eisner’s Contract with God. The first book to be considered a graphic novel. It’s drawn so beautifully and the story is powerful. Billy Bragg is my favorite musician right now. His work engages in politics while still being really rockin’ and fun. Movies, The Yes Men - a very funny documentary about two activists who pretend to be members of the WTO and build a mock website and end up attending real conferences. It’s hysterically funny and also very important.
When did you decide to merge your social/political views with your art? What was the catalyst for this change?
I decided just last year to start merging my political/social views with my art practice. I felt directionless with my artwork and wanted to do something with a stronger message and concept. I had been vegan on and off (mostly on) since I was 15 and vegetarian since I was 12. One of my friends, Sam Weber, said to me “you’re one of the most political people I know. You should put that into your art". I stopped smoking pot around that time and just got really focused. I was able to use a part of my brain that I had never engaged in my artwork, the part that you use to do crossword puzzles, the critically thinking, problem solving part.
What do you want people to get out of your work?
I want like-minded people to be reassured that they are not crazy, that there are some truly messed up things going on right here in the US of A, and also to enjoy looking at the image. I also want those who don’t think critically to perhaps stop for a minute and think, “Oh shit, I hadn’t looked at it that way".
What are your thoughts on orthodox/traditional arts? Fine arts, museums, galleries, advertising, graphic design, commercial arts, etc.
I think that a person has to make a living and that if an artist can make a living through fine or commercial art venues, then so be it. I do think that galleries and museums need to make more of an effort to make their exhibitions more accessible to the public, to encourage a non-art viewing public to get excited about art.
Where do you think your pieces belong? Streets, galleries, books, etc.
I would like to see my work fit in to both galleries and publications. I don’t feel that there need be a strong divide between fine and commercial art. I make my art for reproduction but also always intend to have something to hold onto afterwards, as an original artwork.
What would you change about the world right now and how are you making this a reality?
There’s a lot I would change in the world right now. I would hold corporations responsible for the way people and animals are treated. First on my mind these days are animal rights. I would change the way animals are treated in the slaughterhouse/factory farm system and make meat/animal products far less available. I try to conduct myself in a way that does not support corporate America’s agenda. I boycott fast food chains. I try to avoid chains like Barnes and Noble and Starbucks. I am a strict vegetarian. I am making a graphic novel about corporations and their many abuses of people and animals. I consider my art to be my primary contribution to resistance to corporate power. I also try to conduct my life in a way that supports positive efforts in our capitalist society (buying organic food, e.g.) and riding a bike/using mass transit rather than driving a car.
"Fuck those red states!"
"They’re a bunch of red-neck-sister-fucking assholes!"
"We should secede from those hillbilles!"
Here in NYC, I’m surrounded with the bitterness, anger and hatred towards the folks in the South, Midwest, and Southwest after the results from the presidential elections.
Shit, looks like red baiting to me. Toss the blame onto those red fuckers and blast them away!! Like we need another great witch-hunt in this country. Haven’t we had enough public lynchings?
Funny thing is that most of the people who I hear bash the "red states" aren’t doing a damn thing themselves to change society for the better. Another funny thing is that some of the intellectuals behind the Bush administration’s imperial-foreign policy are from a democratic city: NYC. (Look up neoconservatives.)
I can’t help but think of all the awesome folks who live in those "red states" and work their asses off to improve life there, ie. activists, community organizers, and artists. The damning of entire regions based on CNN’s
two-tone diagrams bothers me. I find it to be completely narrow-minded to condemn honest, hard-working peoples because the Republican party won the most presidential votes.
Quick story, one summer night as I was putting up posters in Brooklyn, a man and two boys walked by me. (I wasn’t alone. My partner was with me. ;)) The guy looked at the poster I was putting up and scowled. The poster was one of the "No RNC in NYC" series. "THE REPUBLICANS ARE COMING" the poster warned with the image of two armed soldiers walking towards the NYC skyline. The guy kept walking with the 2 boys. Not giving them much thought, I went on putting the poster up. Then the guy stopped and turned around. "We’re all one country, you know," he exclaimed.
"Yeah, I know," I responded as if what he said was an apparent contradiction.
"Republicans are people too," he said. "We'’re all one people. We’re all one country." I felt like he was trying to convince me and himself but it wasn’t working.
"Yeah, sure," I said. My partner held the other posters and quietly watched the whole thing.
Obviously annoyed the guy left with the 2 confused boys looking at us. I thought that the poster wouldn't be up for long with this guy in this neighborhood. He’ll see all the posters and tear them down in a fit of righteous rage.
Surprisingly the posters were up for more than 2 days. The poster the guy got angry about stayed up for a lot longer. One of the other posters I put up was ripped. Someone else actually used tape to put the poster back together. I thought the whole thing was amazing. This poster was creating a non-verbal political dialogue within this neighborhood in BK. This was more surprising to me considering that BK is a Democratic stronghold yet I couldn’t completely rule out that there could be - GASP - Republicans in our midst. Shit, there are people from my old hood in uptown - man, fuck that - there are folks in my own FAMILY who might as well get the word REPUBLICAN tattooed on their foreheads. What does that show me? Republicans are everywhere. Democrats too. (They aren't any fucking better, folks. Let’s be honest here. Although, instinctively, this sounds like an oxymoron to me but I wouldn’t even rule out that there maybe some cool Republicans in this world.)
So, here are my final words on this. Hopefully this’ll cool some heads and aid progress:
deal with the Republicans, right-wingers, conservatives, neoconservatives, religious right, etc in YOUR own hood and family. You know who I’m talking about,
finally, grab a marker, make a stencil, design a poster, weld a sculpture, carve a mobile, photocopy some stickers etc etc etc, and express yourself on the streets.
be more proactive than reactive. But be careful out there. It’s witch-hunting season.
To see another POV beside the overly-simplistic blue-red-state-diagram check out TomPaine.com
For more info on the neoconservatives, look up the American Enterprise Institute, Project for the New American Century, and the Rand Corporation. Dig deeeeeep.
The Visual Resistance collective will join Swoon at a workshop on street art at the New School, sponsored by New School Students for a Democratic Society. Thanks to SDS for the invite – the event is free and open to the public, so please come out if you can.