The influence of Southern culture in my work also stems from the differences I’ve found in ethnic and cultural differences among whites in the South. Having brought up in an Appalachian family and raised in the Deep South, I found that many of the traditions of my family history conflicted with the social norms of my surroundings. This fueled my discontent with local assertions of masculinity that I felt were not in congruent with what I experienced. In contrast to the standards of the Anglo-Saxon based Deep South, the clannish structure of the Appalachian household was much more transient on gender roles, due to the economic woes facing the Appalachian region. Although paternalistic, the head of the household, as well as many other men in the home, were accustomed to the traditional roles of their female counterparts, such as cooking, sewing, cleaning and various other crafts--as a form of self-reliance during hard times. Likewise, many Appalachian women were not bound to the traditional duties of the household and participated in the upkeep of livestock, hunting, and farming. (Stembridge Family - circa 1930's, with the surviving 12 of their 16 kids shown). My Great grandmother is in the back right of the photo.
Loy Allen Bowlin has had an influence on my work because of his use of rhinestones and his compulsion to decorate just about anything in his possession with them. Known as “the original rhinestone cowboy”, Bowlin achieved folk art cult status to the likes of Nudie Cohn and Reverend Howard Finster. His Cadillac, wardrobe items, eyeglasses, and even dentures, glistened with rhinestones. After Bowlin’s death in 1995, the Koehler Foundation acquired his house and moved it to the corporation’s museum in Wisconsin.
Bowlin's "Beautiful Holy Jewel Home of the Original Rhinestone Cowboy" in McComb, Miss.
To all of those who attended our MFA Thesis exhibition "Six Trick Pony", and for all of those who have guided and supported us throughout our collegiate career!
"Cullman, AL" Mixed media on wood. 36" x 36" 2013
The success of the Southern icon is deeply rooted in the events following the Civil War, aka the "Lost Cause". After the fall of the Confederacy, there was a strong sense of guilt and a need for salvation from people who strived to comprehend the mass destruction and loss they experienced after so many years of righteousness ideology and propaganda they were accustumed to. Post-war Southerners struggled to get behind figures that not only embodied another rise of their self righteousness, but also portrayed the success of "rags to riches". Author Richard Weaver notes that "what the Southerner desired above all else in religion was a fine set of images to contemplate". In a place so deeply rooted in religious practices such as the South, it's hard to distinguish the secular, everyday images from subconscious religious intent. Two clear examples are found in Elvis Presley and Paul "Bear" Bryant.
Both Bryant and Elvis came from poverty stricken backgrounds and achieved major success in their fields, while also maintaining an image of humbleness that followed them till the end (think Elvis's career in gospel music).
Paul "Bear" Bryant pictured front left.
Elvis Aaron Presley, 1936.
To create a comparison between these two seems absurd to many people, in relation to their lifestyles. Elvis's flashy image of a teen heart throb rebel, later turned Vegas rhinestone god, doesnt suit well to the stoic, soft spoken giant that was Paul Bryant; yet overtime these two icons shared the same fate in life and in death. It is important to understand that icons are never stationary. If they survive the test of time, it's because they adapt, lose meaning, or take on a new identity.
"Elvis was notable for transcending the past. As in not reminiscing of his poor upbringing. His 1970's persona was a Southern version of a royal performance that placed Presley far outside, and above, the experiences of ordinary mortals" - Charles Regan
Bryant's establishment as an icon came from his impeccable record as a football coach, his dedication to developing people outside of players, and his humble approach to success. Bryant was the bain of coaches in his own conference, but when he crossed the Mason Dixon to face a foe on the gridiron, it was as if another Gettysburg was going to ensue. The cultural division was present, and formed again as salvation vs damnation, right vs wrong, Alabama vs Notre Dame. The mindset is all too clear, but the crowd has traded their muskets and hard tack for houndstooth hats and Coca-Cola bottles.
Elvis and Bryant's demi god status came later after death. If the Bible ever taught me anything, outside of my love for science, it was that death always transcends the mortal man into something more. Like Jesus, another popular guy in the South, the righteous figure had fallen, and people scrounge for understanding, looking for the heroic models for human behavior and escape from the everyday world of self isolation that is Dixie.
Within the past ten years of the art world, a surge of digital media artists have made their stamp in the fine art world through the merging of film, photography, scultpure and much more. However, 2 artists, Mr. Doob and Rafael Rozendaal, have also created their work from their past experiences with computer programming and design. The result is a culmination of fun, interactive platforms that allows the viewer to participate with, while not diminishing the fine art aspect of their work.
Born 1980, Dutch-Brazilian, lives and works everywhere.
"Rafaël Rozendaal is a visual artist who uses the internet as his canvas. His artistic practice consists of websites, installations, drawings, writings and lectures. Spread out over a vast network of domain names, he attracts a large online audience of over 15 million visits per year.
His work researches the screen as a pictorial space, reverse engineering reality into condensed bits, in a space somewhere between animated cartoons and paintings. His installations involve moving light and reflections, taking online works and transforming them into spatial experiences.
He also created BYOB (Bring Your Own Beamer), an open source DIY curatorial format that is spreading across the world rapidly.
Selected exhibitions: Venice Biennial, Valencia Biennial, Moca Taipei, Casa Franca Brasil Rio, TSCA Gallery Tokyo (solo), Spencer Brownstone Gallery NYC (solo), NIMk Amsterdam (solo), Stedelijk Museum project space (solo).
Selected press: Flash Art, Dazed & Confused, Interview Magazine, Wired Magazine, Purple Magazine, McSweeney’s, O Globo, Vice Magazine."
Though not as big as a splash in the traditional gallery setting as Rafael, Mr. Doob's experience as a Google programmer has led him to create amazing interactive WebGL sites.