Human self-domestication has surged with the rapid development of modern society, yet we remain tethered to our wild natural history. Evolution lags behind domestication, and continues to drive us with primitive instincts. “Nature Vs. Nurture” collects images that depict the tension between opposing forces, one wild and one domestic, that characterize the human psyche.
Stephen Chopek’s stylishly straightforward collage Beauty represents the idea by juxtaposing an ancient skull with contemporary, lipstick primped lips. Similarly, Chopek’s Domestic combines an antiquated, fur-laden man with a modern appliance: the dishwasher. Chopek’s use of strikingly improbable images enhances the contrast between the primitive and the domesticated that are entwined within each of us.
Tim Okamura’s painting Siobhan (Whispering) illustrates the close relationship between the wild and domestic forces of human personality by repeating the subject in two forms. Their mutual entanglement is evident as one personality whispers deviously into the ear of the other. The sly smile on the recipient’s face tells us she is getting a diabolical idea. Often our two selves, the wild and the domestic, are conceived as being two faces of one moral coin; the one good and the other evil – although it is not always clear which is which. This duality is echoed by Okamura’s backdrops of urban graffiti, which evokes the tension between modern city life and our untamed past. Okamura’s new paintings for “Nature vs. Nurture” are an extension of this theme.
“Sitting,” a series of photographs by Roger Sayre, also seeks to represent the multiple personalities that exist within each of us. Sayre uses a pinhole camera to make a portrait of each subject, the exposure occurring over the course of an hour, which creates “a likeness of the sitter that is possibly truer than a traditional fraction-of-a-second photograph or snapshot. One cannot hold any single expression for the span of an hour; instead, all expressions are merged into one image. The sitter’s essence, distilled over time, is revealed” (Sayre, rogersayre.com). Sayre is able to concentrate the opposing forces contending within each sitter into singularly haunting photographs.
From the symbolic to the literal, each of the artists in this exhibition explore how the disparate aspects of human nature coexist within us, in a way that is individually unique, yet cohesive in their narrative quality and dark undertones. In addition to the aforementioned artists, the exhibition will include George Bates, Greg Brickey, Niina Cochran, Linda Rae Coughlin, Jordan Eagles, Bonnie Gloris, Jordin Isip, Lau Gallico Klohe, Chang Park, Nathan Pickett, D. Jack Solomon, and Kelly Vetter, whose work will support the theme of the exhibition through various mediums, including 2-D, 3-D, and sketchbook work.
Much as a character in a cartoon that has an angel standing on one shoulder and a devil on the other, we must constantly decide which side to listen to. Why is the domesticated self more prevalent in some, while the primitive self dominates others? Is one, in fact, more desirable than the other? These are the questions explored in “Nature Vs. Nurture.”