Christopher W. Weeks

VIRTUAL ARTIST STATEMENT:

 

My work has evolved from a long desire to tell stories. These stories become reflections of my perceptions, transforming the world around me into a series of bright visual hieroglyphs. Acting as both social commentary and contemporary fable, the result is, more often than not, a series of sardonic observations of the world I see, dealing predominately with social rites of passage and the conflicts and challenges of surviving in today’s world. Filtered through the twin lenses of imagination and memory, these issues become symbolic of the struggles which we all face in some form or another, therefore serving as both a catharsis and an exploration of events which forge us all both as individuals as well as a society. Like much art, my work seeks to act as a barometer of the cultural/social concerns, issues, mores, values, priorities and struggles which I see as pertinent to the society around me.

As a visual society, our very thoughts, needs, desires, beliefs and opinions are often forged by the visual stimulus fed to us through a variety of media, from politics to religion, from fashion to propaganda, or from moral rhetoric to Madison Avenue advertising. My work seeks to follow in the vein of these predecessors, mimicking both the visual style as well as the hyperbolic rhetoric meant to stir up the emotions and zealousness of the populace. Advertising imagery and political posters serve as significant influences, particularly in how they so often define both our personal identities as well as our social and cultural identities, in addition to many of our decision making processes. They tell us who we should be, what we should want and how we should live, and so the power of this sort of imagery becomes quite intriguing.

Visually, I like to create work which is stylish, compelling and dynamic, playing off the same slick visual vernacular which inundates us on an everyday level. By utilizing a visual syntax with which most people can relate, my goal is to ward off some of the stigma which currently alienates many from Fine Art. However, I do not want to create work which acts as nothing more than eye candy. Instead, it serves on a deeper, more visceral level. Also stylistically influenced by comic books, slick glossy color advertisements, movie posters and other forms of pop culture mass media, my images are presented in a manner which is as much a part of the same hegemonic American pop culture as it is a comment upon it. In this way, my work, my work falls into the same vein as such works as Art Spiegelman’s Maus and Jim Shaw’s My Mirage Series, in the sense that it explores the boundaries of what comics and pop media can be and the issues they can address.

The relationship between art and its social surroundings is an important symbiosis, because art is not created in a vacuum; it is both a result and a reflection of the culture which creates it, influenced as much by historical and political events as artistic creativity and experimentation. It is a barometer of cultural values, mores, priorities and struggles. It provides both social insight as well as cathartic release. Would Dadaism have been what it was without World War I and the onset of cultural "Modernity"? Or think about the interconnection between Pop Art and the cultural/social shifts of the 1960s, the explosion of television and the mass media, and the general interest in the vernacular? Or what about how the invention of photography as a technology affected the future of painting? Everything that is made, be it consciously or otherwise, is a by-product of its surroundings ...

As a child I wanted to be either a comic book artist or a movie director. I've always been fascinated by the ability to lose one's self within a good narrative, to identify with characters, to live other lives, to experience adventures all within the boundaries of your own imagination. In high school, I pursued writing with the intent of becoming the next great literary genius. In college, I wound up working towards a degree in English, and ultimately ended up with a BA in photography. After graduation, I found work as a graphic artist and freelance photographer. In graduate school, I finally found a way to fuse these life experiences together into a coherent basis for my artwork. My creative process now includes creating my imagery digitally within Photoshop and transferring the image files to 4x5 color negatives which are then printed as traditional color photographic prints. Part comic book, part photography, part graphic design, and part literature, I have found a way to take these disparate aspects of myself and combine them into one effort.