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of America - Noah Scalin
May 12 – June 5, 2018
Krause Gallery, NYC
of America is an intentionally unfinished sentence. It questions what defines being an American today and how the rest of the world perceives this country.
Commercially produced stickers provide a perfect medium for expressing the overwhelming visual noise of American culture. Layered, in a technique inspired by my daughter’s own explorations with stickers as a two-year-old, the chaotic interplay of familiar pop culture elements with the generic expressions of what it is to be a child in the 21st century becomes the tapestry out which I’m trying to form the counterpoint to the chaos.
There are several small bodies of work within this show:
Selections from the Witness sticker portrait series. The works in this exhibition feature images of children from around the world. They are the real faces of “the other” that has been vilified in modern day America. These are the embodiment of the supposedly terrifying foreign immigrants used as a symbol to sow division rather than connection, isolating us rather than connecting us to each other and the world beyond our borders.
Images inspired by plates from John James Audubon's famous tome Birds of America. Birds are unaware of borders, they freely fly over the tallest walls we build without any consideration for their meaning. From state birds to our national symbol of the Bald Eagle, America understands the power of the bird as a symbol of freedom.
Images inspired by historical & modern social activism. “The Problem We All Still Live With” is based on the famous photo of civil rights activist Ruby Bridges being escorted from school by federal marshals, after she became the first black child to attend the all-white elementary school in her hometown in 1960. Her bravery inspired the Norman Rockwell painting “The Problem We All Live With”.
Non-objective works. These pieces are a pure expression of the white noise of our modern American culture and my attempts to organize it. From swirling maelstroms to gradients that rise and fall, they are an exploration of what is possible with the medium.