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The Character of Counterculture

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Although frequently undetected or ignored, counterculture groups commonly face misrepresentation in popular media and, in turn, society. These subcultures are often depicted as undesirable or dangerous, creating a negative stereotype that follows the individuals who choose to express themselves in

Although frequently undetected or ignored, counterculture groups commonly face misrepresentation in popular media and, in turn, society. These subcultures are often depicted as undesirable or dangerous, creating a negative stereotype that follows the individuals who choose to express themselves in the aesthetics and lifestyles of non-normative communities. This creative project celebrates the beauty and sense of rebellion that can be seen in counterculture groups, and provides viewers with a window for viewing them in a new perspective. Considering the vastness of this topic, this project approaches it from three different directions: a series of photographic staged portraits, a series of digitally illustrated character portraits, and a written analysis to begin a discussion around the types of misrepresentation of countercultures and the potential impacts of that phenomenon. The process of planning was difficult yet rewarding, as it was important to ensure that the work would not contribute to the cycle of misinformation, but rather bring visibility to countercultures in the formal art realm. The photographed body of work recreates the composition of famous genre paintings by Judith Leyster and Johannes Vermeer, but substitutes the subjects for a model dressed in the conventional aesthetic of a particular counterculture. There are four portraits in this series, depicting Punk, Goth, Metal, and Emo cultures, using costuming as well as clues in the surrounding environments. By adopting the genre practice of depicting scenes of everyday life, the counterculture communities become normalized for the viewer as people living similar lives to their own. This portion of the thesis is largely inspired by Cindy Sherman, a visual artist who stages portraits of herself as various characters to comment on ideals of beauty and the female form. Continuing to examine the idea of personality in counterculture, the digitally illustrated body of work pulls from four other countercultures to create portraits of fictional characters. Although imaginative, their designs reflect genuine aesthetics of the communities they represent, and are combined with photographic imagery to suggest their connection to real world peoples. The images represent Grunge, Glam-Rock, Non-Binary, and Scene cultures, with each character receiving a name, location, and occupation to challenge first impressions and demonstrate their roles in society. The characters are drawn in a cartoon-like style with the intent to design them as something one might see in popular media (such as in graphic novels). Lastly, these bodies of work are complemented by a brief analytical introduction into the issues of misrepresentation of countercultures in popular media. Intended to be a catalyst for future discussions, the piece discusses the importance of representation and the harmful effects of misinformation in media, and explores contemporary examples of such issues in depictions of Punk and Goth communities in television. In combination with the two series, this analysis will guide viewers as they proceed to interpret and internalize their own meaning from the project.

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Date Created
2018-12

The Butanding: A Narrative Illustration Book and Exhibition

Description

My work focuses on the themes of grief, closure, and celebration of life. Life is a catalyst both celebration and grief. Feeling joy when a life is introduced is as common as feeling pain when a life is lost. When

My work focuses on the themes of grief, closure, and celebration of life. Life is a catalyst both celebration and grief. Feeling joy when a life is introduced is as common as feeling pain when a life is lost. When I lost my maternal grandmother nearly a year ago, I felt grief accompanied with guilt. I never got a chance to say goodbye since we lived so far apart, her residing in the Philippines and me residing in the United States. In order to get rid of these negative emotions, I sought closure. I attended her funeral, and now I want to celebrate her life through my artwork.
My work comes in two parts: an illustration book titled The Butanding and an illustration exhibition. The book will be published through lulu.com and made available to the public. The exhibition component will be held from March 2nd to March 6th in Gallery 100 as part of my senior exhibition Post Pre-Production with six other colleagues in the School of Art. The illustration book is a narration of a little girl and her growing friendship with a whale shark. The overarching theme of the creative project is closure with the passing away of loved ones.
The Butanding is a narrative illustration book about a young girl befriending the local menace of her village, the whale shark. Similar to my own experience, the main subject—the young girl—of my narrative is shown suffering from grief and guilt over her grandmother’s death. My work illustrates a progression of the young girl’s emotional state as she goes on a journey with the whale shark or locally known in the Philippines as the “butanding”. It provides the scenario of a grieving individual who gets the chance to reconnect with a deceased loved one and rebuild relationships that were lost.

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Date Created
2015-05