Queen Media, 2016: oil paint, acrylic ink, charcoal, tissue paper, decorative fabric mesh, paper transfers, modelling paste, & gold-leaf (fake): 48in x 59in x 4in wood panel & acrylic glass shadow box frame
The origin of this work was in one of my academic studio classes as a final project exam at the end of my art school studies. I was assigned to visually and symbolically depict an image that directly represents a cause or ideal in today’s society. The assignment also required experimentation with the use of different materials, and incorporating them into a visually appealing work of art. After a few sketches, some research, and deep thinking sessions, I decided to depict social media as a concept and visually show how I see its relationship with humanity in present day society. Then, Queen Media was born!
I was particularly inspired to fuse today’s era of technology with an older period of time into one image, and that time period was the Baroque/Rococo transition from the 16th-18th centuries. After researching the French culture of this time period, I learned that it was known as the “enlightenment period” which valued reason over authority. It was a time of rebellion in personal expression when new trends in culture, art, and fashion shifted to salons owned by aristocracy. Women wore lavish gowns as a form of expressing their originality and rebellion. They also displayed themselves as a main centerpiece in their own personalized salons. In general, having a salon was considered exclusive and was valued as a symbol of social status in society.
Today, in our advancing technological age, we have access to our own personal salon right at our fingertips instead. Social media. I see social media as a form of self-expression and also a symbolic way to project one’s social status. Now people can create their own presence on social media, and can even use it as a form of promoting their social status: sometimes to the point of obsession.
I expressed this ideology by transferring social media brand icons like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter into the fur-like fabric texture I created out of modelling paste and oil paint. After collecting some fashion sources from the Baroque/Rocco era, I was mostly influenced by the floral fabric patterns Madam Pompadour (the leading salon and fashion icon of that time) wore. I constructed a similar version of an outfit into my artwork using tissue paper and a decorative fabric mesh with a light floral pattern on it. I also ‘modernized’ the look of the dress by creating some minimal fashion features that we see in today’s trends.
Caravaggio is a classic artist that I always admired for his emphasis on contrast and suspense in his paintings. With his style in mind, I also wanted to create a dramatic focal point impression of the figure by creating a spotlight effect. I achieved this effect by implementing a dark background and creating contrast between light and dark tones with paint and material placement.
The impression of the figure herself should appear to look slightly snobbish, proud, and wealthy, as she portrays her social media status with the expensive jewelry and fabric she’s also wearing. In order for salons to thrive in the past, they needed loyal admirers and a consistent guest list. Similarly, this concept is much the same in today’s society with maintaining social media accounts. Having a loyal following, a plethora of likes, and thousands of virtual friends as admirers in exchange for social status, is highly valued and important to some people. The more friends and social media presence one has, the more pride is expressed along with their personal style. This is how I wanted to express my point of view.
After creating Queen Media, I gained the insight of utilizing a variety of materials and mediums. Texture, vibrant colors, and a sense of depth are all emphasized in this work from the effects of the materials I used. In fact, the textures on the dress from the paper placements naturally create depth and dimension on their own.
My new goal and inspiration is to create a series of mixed-media figures like so, that symbolically represent society’s relationship with technology, and also including elements from past eras.