IT IS IMPORTANT to note that these artworks began with the personals ads. Images and words are intentionally shuffled – away from the specific and toward the iconic. This is not about some one – it is about us.
As a reporter and a visual artist, I am being objective and flamboyant, reinterpreting and commenting. I didn't post the seed words and images on the internet: I found them. That's the context.
AS YOU ENTER the space, you will meet Sofia. One of my earliest images in this series, you'll find a thought attributed to Aristotle. It sets the tone for my take on the personals. “Sofia – The wisdom and intellectual virtue achieved when striving after the best ends and using the best means.” Would that it were so!
Sense is artificially hyphenated. Spoken with a Spanish pronunciation it becomes something like sen-say, which reminds one of the Japanese sensei – teacher or mentor – as in, perhaps, “Honorable sensei boyfriend?” Her sky-blue turquoise necklace is: sensei. Are we having fun yet?
In a recent show at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, Mill Valley, Sofia was awarded 3rd place.
AS YOU CONTINUE through the show,
I encourage you to enjoy your own first impressions before you read the additional notes I have supplied below. There is not sufficient space here for me to comment on every piece, but I am happy to answer any questions you might have. And I am eager to hear your comments – for better or for worse!
ROMANTIC IS MY TITLE for this piece. That's just the opposite of what
is represented! Repeating meeting a woman is my way of pointing out that
a man's self-obsession guarantees he will never meet anyone but himself
in the mirror. Isn't it great that we don't have to stay frozen in the same needy state for our whole life? (Hopefully?) I am quite the catch after all!
ONEFLESH is more challenging. Shocking, perhaps? Remember these
words are sampled from actual postings on the internet. Here someone is –
I believe quite sincerely – expressing an honest desire to meet a true mate.
It is biblical and you may have heard it at weddings: “...a man shall leave
his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife... they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let
not man separate." Matt 19:5,6 ESV
Did you notice that this image
of a young woman is in black and white, that only the word carries color? It is widely thought, among Bible scholars, that Mary, mother of Jesus, was a teenager when an angel announced God's will for her. “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord," was her reply. Luke 1:38a ESV
This art is colorful fun! What better way to get a child-at-heart's attention? Humor opens the door to many important interactions.
CONTEXT is important! “Location, location, location!” This real estate is cyberspace. My current show derives from the internet's personals ads. All the images and nearly all the words are from that source. There has been the exercise of editorial discipline, of course.
Like email and blogging, like facebook, MySpace, twitter, YouTube – my view is that the personals are simply one window into the social media universe of cyberspace. Modern marketing mavens name it: the space. I trust you will agree that the art is tastefully done. In future explorations, I fully expect to broaden my field of view. Science and global politics, religion and commerce – all areas the internet brings to us in new ways. In the future I hope to make artistic comment with these as well.
One goal, with this show, is to provoke thoughtful conversation. How do we use the internet? Can we begin to identify the promises and perils of our information age? Do we sometimes dispatch to the world things we would not share with people present?
We discover preteens – tweenagers – sexting one another. Are you a parent? Do you have a daughter? A son? Can this art show be helpful to you as a parent? Let's not lose sight of the need to protect ourselves in our homes and neighborhoods. I'd like to think we can become wise as serpents and innocent as doves. We can go forth together. We do not have to see our neighbor harmed before we recognize a danger. We do have to help each other. These are pioneering times.
I am trained and practiced as both artist and journalist. As a reporter I bring you quotes from what may be a strange and foreign land. That said, we may presently be surprised at how many friends and acquaintances have considered a matchmaker service or browsed the online personals. It is not a casual topic of conversation.
I confess that I first looked here because I was lonely. I have lingered as journalist, poet and artist; it is a fascinating glimpse into social interaction in this 21st century. Shakespeare made grand tales of common people. Like so much in our modern lives, the personals are not a new invention. They are newly forming through advancements in technology.
Since I am mining the personals for this show, and some may consider that a bit naughty, allow me to make this clear statement: I am all in favor of sex. The marital union is a thing of beauty. God made sex. I wouldn't be here without it. You wouldn't be reading this. What I resist is the twisting of our sexuality that leads to promiscuity and much worse. Predators stalk victims. That behavior must be brought to the light of day. Sexual predators have often been victimized themselves. Break the chains. God made us a promise: the truth will set you free. Guard your hearts, and guard your heart's treasure.
There are new threats. There is deception. Did I mention that? Not everything we find available on the internet is full of truth. Public servants in law enforcement are not naive in this area. Pastor or counselor will have seen the evidence. Our best hope? That we move away from being simple consumers of information and become capable managers of our information stream. Is there really any other choice?