exhibition: april 17 - may 10

de·con·struct /ˌdēkənˈstrəkt/ verb: to take apart or examine in order to reveal the basis or composition of often with the intention of exposing biases, flaws, or inconsistencies.

The work in this exhibition examines contemporary social standards and artistic norms. de·con·struct poses the question, Do these works portray a depiction of truth or simply a crafted fabrication? The viewer is challenged to figuratively ‘deconstruct’ notions of beauty, sense of self, gender roles, and the various sources of these preconceptions.

introduction by lori zimmer

The saying goes “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” but in a digitally obsessed modern world, beauty is in the hand of the many digital manipulation programs, features and apps that constitute normal life. Reality has become a carefully curated perception, bending the truth through social media shares. Life is tweaked, filtered and retouched into a perfect plastic package devoid of flaws and grit, and then held, idolized and coveted as truth. Beauty ideals have been in flux since the beginning of time; from the Elizabethans’ love of pale skin and chubbiness, to the Victorians who ruined their internal organs by corseting their waists to 16 inches, or the Egyptians who put globs of fat on their heads and painted their faces with minerals and crushed insects. Modern beauty has taken on a new complexity. The hyperreality of millions of smartphone selfies and brunch photos pushed out into the world has blurred lines, confusing notions of beauty, perceptions of self, and identity. An inundation of sharing our personal, yet doctored, images does not empower the individual to stake their relevance in history, but instead creates an accepted version of lying and impossible standards, each of us knowingly drinking the Koolaid. Even art has helped to embellish and betray on the side of the subject. Throughout history artists gravitated toward making their subjects more pleasing to the eye, many at the demands of the commissioning patron. They have used their “artistic license” to slenderize a patron, refine a nose, or enhance a face to make their sitting subjects remembered as a perfected version of themselves. Yet these immortalizations were never attempting to be reality, but instead a vision of life as art, faces and fashions translated into forgiving swirls of paint. Today’s artists are free to create work without regards to the watchful eye of a patron, using their work to act as a critical tool of societal wrongs. With brushes and paint, they turn attention back to the “real” reality, shattering the perceived perfect by deconstructing the falsified norms caused by digital culture. The artistic license is instead used to expose the grit that makes us human; manipulating materials to reveal a truer side of beauty, complete with flaws, inconsistencies and truth. The irony of turning to a fabricated reality- art work- to challenge our accepted reality (that is in fact fabricated), resonates with the over usage of the Amaro filter and the arrival of the selfie stick. In a society in desperate need of self-reflection without a trustworthy media source to adhere to, we turn to art to ground ourselves in the “real” reality? Can art be the tool to challenge the “new normal,” to help us finally remove the built-up layers of fabricated normalcy, returning to the comfort of a happily flawed existence?