My work investigates what power means to modern-day societies, and more specifically, in America. At age nine, I was introduced to the concept of religion, and have since been intrigued by worship and sainthood. In 2010, I studied with a local Russian Orthodox icon painter to continue my investigation of holy subjects. I am intrigued by the materialism amongst churches, and how that ornamentation is reflected in today’s ideals.
My recent body of work, titled “All Hail,” adorns contemporary celebrities whom are glorified and controversial. The series includes Obama, Lady Gaga, Steve Jobs, Justin Beiber, Amy Winehouse, and Lil Wayne portrayed in a light that idealizes each person’s fame and stature. The pieces are photo-realistically rendered in a Christian icon stylistic method, with glowing 24 karat gold halos. They wear crowns and “bling” made of excessive sugar detailing and extravagant rhinestones. Their clothing is constructed of carefully stained veneer, and their hair is made of preserved moss to resemble the kitsch of the American Chia Pet icon. My use of natural materials is reflective of today’s Go Green trend. In my series titled, “Green is the New Bling”, I embellish appropriated material items with natural ornamentation.
These popular icons are chosen based on their level of idolization in current American culture, whether their fame be positive or negative. Ultimately, they serve as candidates up for panel discussion, and speak of the boundaries, fine lines and blurred categories between sacred religion and pop culture. This has lead me to further investigate the historical processes of canonization, and what qualifies one as a “saint.”
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