Angels and Mug Shots: Of Our Own Making

Artist Statement

The project "Angels and Mug Shots:Of Our Own Making" consists of   paintings of Cemetery Angels altered in various ways and  portraits of men, women and children from arrest photos. The paintings which range in size from 14x11 inches to 72x60 inches are oil on canvas. The two series of paintings will be presented together, the juxtaposition inviting comparison, highlighting the differences and similarities. The paintings will be unified thematically by subject and formally by colour and the application of paint.

 

I see the  creation of cemetery Angels and the production and dissemination of mug shots as different aspects of a similar process of manufacturing otherness. While Angels are imagined as having human form and possessing human qualities like compassion and mercy, they are idealized and conceived of as supernatural and as such as 'other'. People who become enmeshed in the criminal justice system, regardless of their crime, or the potentially arbitrary nature of the law they are accused of breaking, are ostracized and demonized by society. The mug shot contributes to the process of demonization and otherness. Arrest photos are part of the public record which is necessary for the identification of individuals who must be extricated from society, enabling us to distance ourselves from individuals who represent aspects of ourselves we would rather not recognize or circumstances we fear like poverty or addiction.

 

Originally I was drawn to the mug shots because of the unmediated rawness and immediacy of the images. They are the opposite of the photoshopped images that proliferate on TV, in magazines and on social media. Although arrest photos are published in newspapers, posted online and broadcast on television, the individuals are not seen, they are not recognized as the same as us, they become a catagory, members of an underclass, and if they are charged, tried and found guilty they are quite literally hidden from view. It has become important to me that we see these people, that we understand that they are not other... "The unsympathetic assessments we make of others are usually the result of...our habit of looking at them...through lenses clouded by distraction, exhaustion and fear which blind us to the fact that they are really, despite a thousand differences, just altered versions of ourselves; fellow fragile, uncertain, flawed beings likewise craving love and in urgent need of forgiveness". Alain du Button

 

Although a religious concept, I see angels as profound expressions of what it is to be human. Cemetery angel statues are a reminder of our mortality and a symbol of a longing for something beyond death  They are an expression of loss erected as a sign of respect and honour for a beloved relative, friend or spouse.  They represent strength, beauty, compassion mercy and tenderness.

 

 The production and dissemination of mug shots is part of the  process of manufacturing otherness. '. People who become enmeshed in the criminal justice system, regardless of their crime, or the potentially arbitrary nature of the law they are accused of breaking, are ostracized and demonized by society. The mug shot contributes to the process of demonization and otherness. Arrest photos are part of the public record which is necessary for the identification of individuals who must be extricated from society, enabling us to distance ourselves from individuals who represent aspects of ourselves we would rather not recognize or circumstances we fear like poverty or addiction.

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Originally I was drawn to the mug shots because of the unmediated rawness and immediacy of the images. They are the opposite of the photoshopped images that proliferate on TV, in magazines and on social media. Although arrest photos are published in newspapers, posted online and broadcast on television, the individuals are not seen, they are not recognized as the same as us, they become a catagory, members of an underclass, and if they are charged, tried and found guilty they are quite literally hidden from view. It has become important to me that we see these people, that we understand that they are not other...