INSERT IN THIS BOX IMAGE TITLED “SHE-BA”

INSERT IN THIS BOX IMAGE TITLED “MUIRHEAD”

Due to commercial and societal pressures, people have become homogenized, displaced from their roots. In many artists’ search for identity and a sense of historical connection or grounding, they have sought out their ancestral/ethnic cultures for inspiration. The adoption and adaptation of such design elements and socio-political symbolism may fill such gaps in contemporary life. Thusly, representatives of racial minorities desire to define and present their subjective and collective voices through their art. Romare Bearden’s She-Ba, 1970, and Deborah Muirhead’s Water World Voices from the Deep, 1991, reflect personal journeys to connect with their ethnic and ancestral pasts. While for Bearden, an ethnic queen embodies his linkage to his African-American identity, Muirhead’s vision is more obscured. The darkness represents a search without resolution, a mystery never to be resolved.  

 

INSERT IN THIS BOX IMAGE TITLED “KRUGER” 

Kruger, who worked as a magazine editor and layout designer for years, copied the style of a medium, which traditionally celebrates and fuels consumerism. She photographed a model (for cosmetics or nail polish) in a pose simulating anxiety. Rather than the model beaming with perfection, she appears to be having a nervous breakdown. The red framing elements and wording, as in Holzer’s and Eddy’s images, present multiple layers of visuals and meaning which cancel each other out, create confusion, and deflate our complacent satisfaction with American life. While advertising aims at luring us into buying products which will make us happier, healthier, thinner, more muscular, attractive, wealthier, and more self-satisfied (in a superficial way), do consumers ever get what is promised? Rarely, if ever. And if the advertisers are selling happiness and fun, “are we having fun yet?” then the realization of falling short of expectations and of having been seduced by the advertising moguls can be devastating.  The model, the exemplary specimen of humanity as constructed by the media, is shown as having psychically collapsed.