If you've survived 2020 you've dealt with polarity. Pick a topic or a news story: masks, distancing, elections, vaccines; if the earth is round, if science is good. You say up, they say down.
The news of the FDA approval to ship the new vaccine is no different. Just as our mailpeople are piling cardboard Amazon shipment trees at our front doors, the first wave of the Pfizer vaccine is on its way.
Anyone who follows along should know the moment if ripe for FDA art. No matter where you stand on your syringe injection site, or where your position is in the line for the vaccine, the holidays are here.
Is it possible there's hope in the New Year?
The benefit of working with Redline over the past 6 months or so is the creativity involved. For an artist to let go of the reigns is harder than getting Santa to pry his fat ass out of a sleigh. But Redline's editors take art and poetry and collage them together to make something better.
One of my favorite results of this is in their latest issue. They incorporated a poem of mine throughout the issue. The poem "Compassion" plays on the root of the word as well as the origins of perspective.
Einstein's theory of simultaneity--as it relates to relativity--was illustrated by a thought experiment using lightning and trains. This idea of seeing things differently that are happening at the same time is a central theme to 2020.
Add in some old friends from South Boston and you have a word salad of pop references, physics, language, and images to work with.
What you think of the vaccine may have something to do with where you stand in relation to the landscape, the lightning, or the train.
FDA Art Prints
A pair of new prints released on my website this week: "Turn" and "Your Life"
There is heavy use of primary colors. Pay attention to the use of yellow in regards to the symbolism of Yellow Fever and other epidemics.
This can be seen in relation to COVID-19. Both of these works employ basic shapes (squares, circles, triangles) and use negative white space to press around the subjects.
These are subjects in isolation, contenting with quarantine and the stresses of information, intimacy, and desire.
Turn explores the imagery and connotations of a doorknob and a lock. There's an old bad joke about promiscuity: "Everybody gets a turn."
Here, we have a couple shaded yellow, unable to resist the closing distance of intimacy. We can almost feel the magnetism between them as their social distance closes from 6 feet to 6 inches to closer still. Like all of us in the world right now they are riding the tension of wanting to get closer to everyone and the caution of trying not to.
Of course, "turn" also stands for "it's your turn" to contract COVID, or it's your turn to lose someone. It's your turn to get in line for the vaccine.
How do we content with the locks, bolts and latches? A nurse lunges from the background, rendered in a blur.
Can we wait our turn? Do we want our turn? Flames burn from the bottom right of the picture and the nurse's dialogue balloon is empty. What is she going to say?
You can see Turn in the website store.
Your Life, 2020
The same verbal play and ambiguity of meaning is central to "Your Life," another print completed this year. In relation to the stresses of vaccines and COVID, "Your Life" adds intensity to the choices facing all of us in the months ahead.
Appropriating imagery from gas mask guidelines, "Your Life" also speaks to the COVID fatigue and mask use debate that rages on around the world. As numbers soar in our serious second wave, endurance and clarity matter more than ever.
But does your life depend on the mask, the vaccine, or the desperate nurses--lunging to stop the bleeding of the yellow hue across the picture plane?
A record player is a central image here. A broken record, or the same information being recycled over and over again. For every pair contained together there's an isolated castaway.
See all of Your Life in the website store.
Artists art. Poets poet. Writers write.
While it wasn't top of my list to make art about COVID, quarantine, and vaccines, we are truly in the most globally unique and challenging moment of post-modern times.
But the underlying questions: intimacy, distance, connection, confusion, and relativity. These are universal.
Whether it's FDA art or a debate about nursery rhymes, the impacts of 2020 will reverberate.
They're like a record player, spinning.
Hope you all enjoy the new prints.