Taryn Scanlon, Untitled at 113th Annual Student Exhibition, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
“We inhabit a culture of formulaic order. Our habits, actions and lives become part of the calculated automation which hums and buzzes incessantly alongside the 24 hour news cycle. Medicated, smitten with technology, inundated with advertisements, we gallop the rampant race of consumerism. We are what we have; we are what we subscribe to. This culture of subscription is one of distraction and entertainment. We absorb. We obey. We conform, and even behave most of the time; and in the midst of our culture’s comfort and hedonism, are wars, disasters, ecological devastation, corporate greed, political corruption, violence, addiction and madness. If we are to face the emptiness and absolute absurdity around us, what might we say, feel or do? In a world with so much bullshit, how do you continue to put one foot in front of the other? I am interested in the excess and decay around us, our culture’s production of normalcy and its refusals.
My work address issues of addiction, escape and normalcy. Employing multiple visual languages I seek to imply that the language of the mind is not always logical. By fracturing and fragmenting space, and through the layering of surfaces my work attempts to represent the disruption and dissolution that occur with the erosion of logic. In exploring discontinuous space I hope to find the disruption of form that enables sensation. Through superimposing or juxtaposing forms, my work attempts to make narrative suggestions that document the disintegration and decomposition of a world to which we are anesthetized.” – Taryn Scanlon artist statement
I met Taryn Scanlon at the 113th Annual Student Exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, her paintings are in an alcove near the windows. Entering the artists space is to be transported into a story you didn’t know you were part of. The paintings are like the dreams where you kick your feet because you’re floating. The painting with the mouse trap started a conversation with the artist with me confessing a disgusting mouse trap story that I have shared with only a few other people. The trap painting describes a state of dependency, ingenuity and survival of the fittest.
The hyper-narrative is like an overdose of delusional fears that plays out like the warning label in an anti-depressant ad. The color palette is seductive like a mood pill commercial, too, with gorgeous, dreamy contrasts of color fields accented with descriptive lines. I believe I told Taryn my same old line about when the power grid goes down the artists will become the tribal leaders because they will be able to tell the stories. That’s the way I feel about these untitled paintings, even though I usually bristle a little at ‘untitled’ art, because these paintings tell stories of beauty in a fearful world, create emotional visual experiences and communicate with authentic modern narratives.
“The graduate program experience at PAFA is transformational. Whatever your background or experience as an artist, you will be thrown into a community atmosphere of intense discovery and challenge. Your work, your assumptions and your sense of yourself will be questioned and provoked by members of one of the largest graduate fine arts faculty in the world.” – PAFA Graduate Programs
“The Annual Student Exhibition (ASE) has been a tradition for over a century and is the culminating event in PAFA’s artistic calendar. Each spring the graduating students of the Certificate, BFA and Master’s programs mount an exhibition that fills the Museum exhibition galleries in the Samuel M. V. Hamilton Building. Over 11,000 visitors see more than a thousand works in all media. Sales at last year’s ASE grossed over $270,000. Graduating students compete for dozens of distinguished prizes and awards, including the illustrious Cresson Traveling Fellowship and the Caldwell Purchase Prize, in which a work by a graduating student is selected for purchase by the Museum and inclusion in PAFA’s permanent collection.
Written and photographed by DoN Brewer except where noted.
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