April - December 2017 / SCETV

Exhibition Text

University of South Carolina Art History Professor Bradford Collins begins each semester asking his students why we are the only organism that creates art, then provides a simple answer, “We don’t know how to be. My cat does not make art; it knows how to be a cat. We make art because we don’t know how to be human.” As a cultural artifact, art has long documented this collective, internal conflict. From antiquity to modernity, artists consistently ponder the complexities of the human condition. Perhaps this is where our conflicts arise: different ideas about how to be human. When we were gifted reason, we inherited the burden of contemplating our place, both in the universe and amongst ourselves. To put it simply, the human condition is an identity crisis. Face is an exhibition of South Carolinian artists exploring various modes of portraiture. Artists will address ideas of identity and touch on issues concerning culture, race, religion, gender, and individuality.

Christy Aitken’s portraits on wood address the transparency of contemporary society. She aims to question the assumptions we make based on appearances.

Chambers Austelle uses figurative painting to examine society’s view of women and the beauty standards they are subject to.

Artist Todd Baxter creates life-like portraits of those close to him. Here, he depicts his young grandchildren at play during a family beach outing. Baxter’s portraits are representative of both the subject and familial bonds that shape our lives.

Michaela Pilar Brown uses imagery to explore issues of age, race, gender, and history while considering myth, memory, ritual, and desire.

Abigail Cohen is a young photographer who captures individuals she finds interesting. With selective setting and clothing choices, each photograph conveys the subject’s spirit and individuality.

Damond Howard draws on his experiences as a black man living in the South. He critiques harmful imagery that has shaped racial stereotypes and impact on African-Americans’ sense of self.

Working in charcoal, graphite, ink, and acrylic on paper, Kristyn Larsen’s expressive portraits depict her subjects’ emotional energy. Each portrait is done during a brief but intimate conversation with either a close friend or stranger whom she depicts with blind contour, cross contour, and gestural drawings.

Columbia artist Benjamin Moore works uses geometric shapes, color schemes, and texture to create abstracted portraits. He draws on urban and pop culture to create images that reflect his life and surroundings.

Stephanie Shively’s photograph series confront her inner conflicts in regards to female identity, the idealization of motherhood, and the notion of fulfillment.

Cody Unkart exhibits more traditional means of portraiture in which the subject is drawn from life, and depicted exactly as he or she appears. The settings and poses chosen by the artist are specific to the sitter. Here, the subjects are shown in their living room, representative of their domestic life day-to-day.

Through art, we explore our sense of self and relationship to our surroundings. We examine our innermost conflicts and outward adversities. Though each of us carries a unique story, we share the common desire to truly know who we are and how we fit into the world. While each of the artists in this exhibition approaches the issue with varying ideas and chosen media, the culmination of these practices aims toward a better understanding of how we identify as individuals and collectively.


FACE Exhibition Packet

Exhibiting Artists: Christy Aitken, Chambers Austelle, Todd Baxter, Abigail Cohen, Damond Howard, Kristyn Larsen, Benjamin Moore, Michaela Pilar Brown, Stephanie Shively, and Cody Unkart

South Carolina Education Television