Good Children Gallery

4037 St. Claude Ave., New Orleans, LA 70117


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The Art of Vanitas: Generic Art Solutions

Here and Now: Meg Turner

Opening: Saturday July 14, 6 - 10 pm
Exhibition Dates: Saturday July 14 - Aug 5

The Art of Vanitas: Generic Art Solutions

We live in an era where our social media identities will outlive us, even though mortality and its dark reality looms on the not-so-distant horizon. We have created a disjointed sense of self-awareness that has us obsessively documenting our life’s events as “media content”, and in doing so we muddle the very moment we are trying to capture. What exactly is the purpose of this? More “likes” on the internet? Unfortunately, we have become willing to sacrifice the purity of the experience in hopes of preserving its memory in digital code. Whatever fate befalls us in the end, it is certainly the vanity of youth, pride, and our egos that remain as universal human constants while our “awareness” actually erodes.

Back in the 17th century, Dutch Masters began a tradition of still life paintings as portraiture using symbolic objects to illustrate mankind’s vanity and the temporal nature of life’s treasures. Still referred to as “Vanitas”, these works invite the viewer to identify with a multitude of universal themes contained in the composition. But more importantly, there is an intention for the viewer to contemplate the more serious overtones of morality, which would ultimately provide salvation from the trappings of earthly delights.

The earliest versions of Vanitas, as with ours in this show, are largely monochromatic. This distillation of objects on a black background creates a more somber tone, but there is also a focus on polysemic subject matter (such as “Time”, “reflect”, “drift”, “view”, and “perspective”). It is this interplay of multiple meanings that creates a psychological dialogue of sorts, where the viewer and object define and redefine themselves through fluid role reversals, ad infinitum. This type of engagement is further explored in a more literal sense, with the series of vintage hand mirrors (“Vanity mirrors”) that have each been etched with several thought-provoking phrases.

Today, without the certainty of a Savonarola-like rhetoric, focusing on what is important amidst an avalanche of trivia, make-believe, and erroneous truths, the virtuous have their work cut out for them. Time, we have…but never the ability to arrest it. As a matter of fact, we have an increasing tendency to squander it, wish it away, or fill it with a never-ending list of chores and projects, as if we will live forever. Surely, this is a habit of dysfunction more than anything.

The work in this show, The Art of Vanitas, is presented as a reminder to stop and be present in the moment; engage with your surroundings in something of a visual meditation, an act of mindful discovery. After all, we are not without hope: Generic Art Solutions has sent a lifesaver out into the vast, dark waters of uncertainty in an attempt to help us all escape the void.

Here and Now: Meg Turner

Here and Now is part movie set, part video installation. The architecture evokes a gay bar turned corner store turned socialist agit-prop machine. A printmaker by trade, Meg uses signage - hand painted and neon lights - as signifiers of a subverted social landscape. A space in which the care and selflessness we bestow on those we love is given the same lavish attention in the American roadside (both the literal and apocryphal american roadside) normally reserved for naked capitalism. Here and Now is the rest stop of dreams while road tripping through the multifaceted hostility and beauty of modern america.

Recently denounced in Breitbart news, Meg is not afraid to question the conservative white evangelical Christian presumptive ownership of notions of god and country. Her signage calls for a just and equitable landscape and, declaring across huge windows of New York, “God Hates Guns, Loves Gay Porn”.