Last semester, I took an art history class on Contemporary art, in which we discussed the work of Sherrie Levine. My classmate and friend Karen studied her work in-depth for the class’ final presentations, and we both discussed how hilarious it is that she basically took a photograph of a photo by someone else, a man, and passed it off as her own. Based on this idea of irony, humor, and appropriation of the work of others, we decided to put on our own show.
Thus came about “In Bloom,” which we named after the book The Anxiety of Influence by Harold Bloom. The book theorizes that poets are doomed to fail to live up to their great predecessors, thus creating anxiety.
Everything in the show was appropriated- even the postcard image, which was inspired by the song “In Bloom” by Nirvana. I slightly changed the image (but it is still of the same kind of flower) and font, therefore creating something ‘our own.’
(Nirvana’s single album cover)
The ironic thing about this image is, it is a photograph of a flower–a symbol closely tied with femininity but loaded with cliches. Also, the image(s) explicity focus on an erect, penis-like pistil—the female part of the flower’s reproductive system. A typically female symbol is recontextualized within the lines of masculine power.
Here are the photos from the show, starting with my work:
Shark In a Box, painted wood, monofilament, stuffed plush shark
Caterpillar Ladder, ladder, pool inflatable
Dolphin, inflatable pool toys, trashcan, chain
Red, lipstick on canvas
And now on to Karen’s wonderful work:
Karen Murphy, 1/450 Ton Prop, translucent porcelain
Karen Murphy, Fore Sherrie Levine, Collage (texbook page)
Karen Murphy, Please Take Off Your Shoes, flooring material
Karen Murphy, Stacks, porcelain dishes
Karen Murphy, Untitled (Cylinder), porcelain and embellishments (glitter, flocking)
It was a great experience putting the show together, choosing which artists to appropriate and how to re-create their work within a similar framework, while also employing irony and humor. Since I work in the field of sculpture, I re-created 3 large sculptures utlizing found objects, as well as a tiny(!) painting. Karen is a ceramicist, so she created mostly ceramic pieces and used some found objects. It was a great learning experience putting the show together too; everything from the postcard design, gallery setup and display, track lighting, reference image binder, vinyl wall lettering, and reception refreshments was done by us. This was the first show I’ve ever done on such an independent scale, and it was wonderful to do something only the 2nd week of the new semester. It was even better having our peers (and the Director of the School of Visual Arts!) come see the show and enjoy it. Overall, I’m very happy with the way everything turned out!
Have a wonderful week everyone! Go out there, make art and make opportunities for yourself!