This project is an attempt by myself to involve a larger audience in the artmaking experience as well as to try and seduce an artistically unengaged audience into the galleries and other art venues that they normally wouldn't visit. I'm pooling people from all parts of the San Diego community, from shopping centers to their own homes. I engage them in a series of socialogical questions about the community and their participation in the art world. I then ask them if I can take their photograph for my records. Afterwards, I ask if they would like to be notified of any publication or exhibition of my research, and if so, provide me with their address. Little to their knowledge, I use their photo to create a portrait, and then mail it directly to them. I ask for nothing in return except that I would appreciate their attendance at an exhibition that their portrait will be featured in, along with all the other portraits that people bring back, and to get the work signed while they're there. This project is using a form of art that is widely appreciated and has a long history, portraiture, combined with modern conceptual conventions to try and bridge the gap that has been created between the public and the artworld. The general public is often put off by contemporary art because they can't understand it, or don't have the education to appreciate it. This has resulted in a growing lack of attendance to some very exciting work that is happening. I'm trying to reverse this process by also reversing the traditional means for experiencing art. Normally, art is made, then put in the gallery for someone to buy, and then hung in their home. I'm creating work, mailing it directly to my subject for free, and asking them to bring it to the gallery just for the exhibition. The exhibition is the culmination of the project, where a good sampling of the San Diego community will converge within the gallery and not only experience some contemporary art, but also be a part of it.
The first row is mostly portraits of
friends, just the beginning stages of this project where I was
experimenting with different ideas and painting techniques. The second
row is the first series of portraits done of strangers who I met doing
various surveys. Their portraits were mailed in time for Christmas, but
they're not expected to bring them back to the gallery. I did, however,
ask them their opinions about the project.