After going through the blood-gultch gauntlet of art-school critiques a hard shell typically forms. Especially when it comes to personal work. Such is not the case. The general public is a different beast, each person gazing at your work has a different opinion. Something nuanced, a sense of past experiences that they impart onto your work. A challenging situation is watching these people come and view your work. Their facial reactions changing from curios and intrigued, to haughty and frustrated. I’ve been there before– strolling through galleries and imparting my art-history knowledge on some young artist’s work. Always pulling gut punches with statements like, “This looks like Jackson Pollock and Kieth Harring had a baby.” Of course I used big names back then, because my limited field of view in the art world. Today, its a lot easier for me to avoid going to gallery shows. I still look at other artists’ work with awe. Especially work that has a unique sense of identity. Something that seems to dig deep in the artist’s mind. Not work that has an agenda, but pieces that delve into the existential realm. Today it seems that because of political tides, artists are obligated to make a statement. Regardless of their personal beliefs or feelings of the situation. This is a realm I try to avoid with swiftness. With Notch 8 Gallery’s show ‘Out of Context’ I chose to side on a bit more ambiguous subject-matter. I created two new pieces for the show. With a third being from my past work, snuggling comfortably between the others. The past work, “The Escape of Prosperina” is an homage to Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s “The Rape of Proserpina”. I studied this piece in my art history classes. Completely jealous of its masterful execution in the medium. The details, structure, and anatomy is so well done. The piece seems to glow in any room its set. This type of high Baroque art has always draw me in. The settings, people, and atmosphere of that period’s work being the highlights for me. The fact that most of these artists executed this work to such a high level of skill at such a young age further tipped my intrigue. For my piece, executed in digital I sought to mimic the statuesque figures in a wood-block style. Aping something Albrecht Dürer (another idol of mine) would have done. The meaning behind the piece being Prosperina escaping the clutches of suppression. Using strength to break one of the elements binding her. The work was an aesthetic exploration, with a simple meaning behind it. Choosing to do something in the realm of medieval/renaissance symbology, “Fire and Soot” is a play on occult imagery and metaphors. The woman standing nude before the audience is given a crown of grapes and gold. Grapes in this piece symbolizing innocence, while gold is holding the grapes in place. The figure is shrouded in a dark atmosphere. The alchemaic symbols for fire and soot, floating above illuminating the space. While the young woman may be innocent, she will soon find that power will corrupt her. Ideals will be burnt to ash by those who crown her. The grapes on her crown will wither and be turned to wine, instead of dying to return to the earth. The piece is about the loss of innocence in the face of power. “Bacchus” is about the Roman god. It is a tie-in to “Fire and Soot”. In this instance he is presenting the crown of grapes taking a stance to give one last suggestion of staying innocent. Instead she succumbs to decadence and hedonism. The hand, both reluctant and inviting reaching from outside reality, breaking it into a gradient of squares. The subtext for the piece is, “The hand of fate beckons you to wait.” So, with all that said I had an incredible time with the show. Getting to show my work with so many talented artists was inspiring and has since pushed me to make better work. I can’t say I’ll do another art show anytime soon. The stress and anxiety of it all is a bit much, but after its all done, it’s a real treat.