Friday, February 8, 2019

The collage that Zazzle doesn't want you to see

Zazzle is where pop art goes to die. If Andy Warhol were alive today, Zazzle probably wouldn't let him print his Brillo or Campbell's Soup work. As I made clear in my artist statement, I make art out of garbage. Is it my fault that much of that detritus has corporate logos on it? Here is the collage that Zazzle doesn't want you to see:

Netflix and chill  |  2019 |  recycled paper on canvas  |  2" x 2"  |   $20


It looked so great on a t-shirt, but Zazzle deleted it.


I had the same problem with The Doll Project a few years ago. As it turns out, Zazzle sells official Barbie products so of course they're going to look out for Mattel's interests. I suppose what I should have done is applied for a job at Netflix, come up with this design before they fired me, all while probably not getting paid very well. Excuse me for not finding that prospect appealing. I just wanted to make something interesting out of an old DVD envelope instead of putting it into a recycling bin, and this is the grief I get.

A few of my designs on Zazzle have flown under the radar. This collage has a cutout from a Tiffany and company magazine ad.



The Sum of its Parts has the Target logo in it because that part is made from one of their plastic shopping bags.



I'm sure it's one of those things where the percentage of the imagery that features copyrighted and trademarked elements matters. In any event, the policy ties the hands of artists who seek to use the debris of our disposable consumer culture as our raw materials. They may make it harder to produce reproductions of our work, but they can't stop us from selling the originals. So if you want to get a piece of art that was banned from Zazzle, come to my open studio tonight.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Two great shows at the Smart Museum

There are two great shows at the Smart Museum right now: Solidary & Solitary and Smart to the Core: Embodying the Self. Solidary & Solitary features work by Black abstract artists. As a Black abstract artist myself, I was so excited to see such work get recognition. I had actually planned to go to the opening reception but because the weather was so bad last week, I went there today instead. Most of the work in the show is from the collection of of Pamela Joyner, a Black art collector. There is also art that was commissioned specifically for the show.  The description of the show contains a passage that particularly resonates with me:

For Black artists, abstraction is charged with the refusal of representation that is socially dictated, both by racist stereotypes of the dominant culture, and the pressure from within the Black community to create positive imagery. Abstract art as a practice embodies the possibility of individual freedom and autonomy, even within larger social identities.

I felt that. 

Norman Lewis, Afternoon

Sam Gilliam

Melvin Edwards




Leonardo Drew, Number 205

Shinique Smith, Study for "Love Is"

Shinique Smith, Phases

Kevin Beasley, Untitled (Vine)
 
Leonardo Drew, Number 29S

Jennie C. Jones, Light Gray with Bright Notes #1 & #2

Jennie C. Jones, SHHH #6

Glenn Ligon, One Black Day

Samuel Levi Jones


Smart to the Core: Embodying the Self is an exhibit inspired by a University of Chicago core course in the social sciences called Self, Culture, and Society (that many students jokingly referred to as Self-torture and Anxiety when I was a student there). A lot of the work in this exhibition is about the individual in conflict with society, particularly those with marginalized identities.

Carrie Mae Weems, Some Said You Were the Spitting Image of Evil

Hank Willis Thomas, I Am A Man

This piece was a collaborative work made by Amanda Williams based on the writing of Chicago journalist Natalie Moore, who recently authored a book about segregation on the South Side of the city. The red carpet is symbolic of the redlining policy that enforced segregation in Chicago.

Amanda Williams, Roll out the Red Carpet to White Flight (They Didn't Pitch Tents in the Open Prairie)

Amanda Williams, Cadastral Shaking (Chicago v1)

Both shows are on view until May 19th. The Smart Museum is on the campus of the University of Chicago in Hyde Park and admission is free. Visit their website for directions and hours.


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