Unpacking the New Normal in Art
It’s almost the end of 2020. How many times have you heard the phrase The New Normal this year? What’s the new normal going to be for work? Seeing movies? Where people live?
Travel, shopping, internet use will all change radically in the new normal, they say.
On that note; how many times have you heard the phrase Zoom towns this year? Or, I can’t hear you, “you’re on mute”?
Speaking of being unmuted— make sure you hit follow and visit my website for more news about me and my work and exclusive deals on new prints and commissions.
Now, one of my favorite examples of the possible new normal was early on in the epidemic Dr Fauci said something like if he had his way, people would never shake hands again.
We aren't quite done discussing the new normal. The truth is, my print by the same name—created during 2019 and 2020–was the highest selling product in my store this year. My gift this year has been all the incredible support to my work and social media.
Now let’s find out how the new normal fits in with art this year.
Responding to Change in Art
As an artist I use my work to process emotions and make sense of things in life a lot.. Except When the pandemic hit I felt a conflict: would it be better to make art in dealing with the abrupt change? Or should I try to create something more positive and uplifting for people during our unprecedented times?
Truth is, most great art comes as a reflection of wholesale changes in society. The peak of modern art—the impressionists—celebrated the new leisure class, and the dynamic renovations going on in Paris, while also looking at the negative impacts to culture.
That’s only one example. Like, The abstract expressionists had to make sense of the very threat of nuclear war after world war 2.
Even Keith Haring’s works contending with the AIDS virus or Crack epidemic played huge in my mind while wondering what to do.
I kept thinking—- if Keith Haring were still alive he’d know exactly how to handle this. Make sure you take a peek at his new American Masters special if you haven’t yet.
Even in tremendous hardship, good things can be born. How about this?
Without the dangerous nuclear testing at bikini atoll we would have never had the bikini. The inventor of the bikini named the new swimsuit after the bomb site.
He said the effect of the tiny fabric would be explosive on society.
Don’t forget, if there was no bikini there would be no Bikini Bottom. And Spongebob Squarepants would have had no place to live.
The point is, there’s no running from change. There's also no question that the pandemic has changed things. The “New Normal” questions how we all handle that shift.
A New Explosion
One of the first things you’ll notice about the New Normal is the huge mushroom cloud explosion in the desert. This is a purposeful callback to the testing of the first nuclear bomb in the New Mexico desert in 1945. The bomb, and cactus, are deliberately held in empty space in the composition to highlight the extreme proximity of the people and items in the rest of the print.
Just as the first nuclear bomb had lasting reverberations for all of life and society, the overlapping people in the New Normal are contending with different parts of life now. Plus, their proximity and gathering are spreading the virus faster and faster in the narrative of the work.
When I finished New Normal I wasn’t sure if people would want to commemorate the stay at home orders, the quarantine, and the impact of 2020. Do you hang a picture of a bomb blast on your wall? Still, the fact that so many of you needed to own this picture shows what we all know to be true; there’s no escaping change. Capturing the unique qualities of this time is something all of us will be doing for the rest of our lives.
Unpacking New Normal in Art
I had a collector in key west ask if I could order a print of new normal for them directly. Before I complete my mission I thought I’d give you all a preview.
This is what your package will look like, after you hear the delivery truck take off.
Ok, Maybe without the bow.
The safe packaging comes with either my signature on the outside or EidsvigArt branding to let you know there’s great stuff inside.
Unpacking the box, you’ll find New Normal is printed on the museum quality paper and includes a huge array of colors. Presented at 12”x16” the print is small enough to find room in a frame on any wall. Also, New normal is big enough to always draw your eye and have you coming back for more. Just like the process of learning more and more about how COVID fallout would effect life in 2020 and beyond, New Normal reveals more every time you return.
“Not knowing” has been a central theme of 2020. Not knowing what will happen, when things will open or close; what’s safe, what’s not.
There are many moments of ambiguity in New Normal too, like these 2 children on the ground. Are they playing? Wrestling? Really fighting?
Go further: Are they lifeless? Are they thrown free from a bomb blast? Who is the authority figure standing above? A parent? A lawmaker? A god? Why doesn’t he do something? What are we all just watching for?
There’s a texture and an undercurrent of obscurity as well in New Normal. Obscuring faces and emotions: Masks conceal people in New Normal and people are not always what they seem at first.
Some try and storm off with their heads lodged firmly in the clouds. Others glare into the melee in shock or disbelief. You can almost hear the quiet of empty space and the hurried noise of scrambling toward something else in different parts of the picture.
Just as some people reach out in love in New Normal, others brandish weapons and anger. Conflict and resolution are central themes.
Do you remember, An early scientific study wondered about the impacts of humidity and spreading COVID? That’s the other reason for the hot desert air against steamy romance and close proximity.
In some ways COVID’s quarantine demands brought us all farther apart. In others we were packed closer together. The New Normal looks at both.
More COVID work
You can tell I had no choice in terms of responding with art. Also, Beyond making visual art over the past year during COVID, I’ve written numerous poems dealing with quarantine and stay at home orders. These have been published in poets reading the news, the district, the deadline, and other journals and anthologies. Make sure you check out my publications page on my website for more information. You can read poems considering the human impacts of quarantine: masks, romance, vaping, springtime, and even new emojis get airtime in the post-COVID world of my recent poems.
Okay, What about the Santa hat? You can call it my gift back to you for all the support this year.
You can also call it a reminder. After you’re done returning all those gifts your great aunt bought you and wondering what to do with the cash it might be time to dress up those walls.
For most of us, 2020 has been lean. There’s no need to spend a ton of money bringing real art into your home or office. The new normal is an affordable way to invest in art and commemorate the seismic changes this year has brought us all. You’ll find the print for sale in my shop. Remember what Keith Haring said, “art is for everybody.”
Here’s wishing you all a happy new year. Don’t forget the Spanish Flu and World War 1 also brought on another change: the roaring twenties and Picasso and literature like the Great Gatsby. So there's hope that the New Normal in art and society will be a great thing.
Let’s hope next year puts the roaring twenties to shame. Thanks for supporting EidsvigArt. Make sure to share this blog and follow for more.
You can see more on the New Normal on my Instagram page.