Hi everyone, I hope you’re doing well. My final fall semester as an undergrad at Marywood is wrapping up (what a daunting sentence to write) and I’m feeling the pressure of finals and a surely oncoming second lockdown-period in PA.
Something that keeps me going, as you would know if you’ve read my previous posts, is art. All kinds of art-films, paintings, performance, etc…I love art and art history, it’s what I want to do for a living. Despite my never-ending love and fascination with art, I, oddly enough, have had this weird aversion towards virtual walk-throughs of exhibitions. They didn’t seem to offer the same organic feeling of walking through a space and looking at works of art in person. Even though we’ve, as a country, started to hunker down this past March (about 8 months ago, now) this was my first time viewing an exhibition virtually.
Even though the title of this week’s post comes from a NY Times article, I will be focusing only on the work of Jonathan Lyndon Chase and his solo show, Wind Rider. The press release for the show offers some context for the viewer to consider when “walking” around the virtual space:
“In Wind Rider Jonathan Lyndon Chase creates an immersive installation of sound, sculptures and paintings centered around the hyper masculine world of cowboys. Often touted as white and heterosexual, the cowboy is a conduit of terror and consumption; it’s very existence compounds erasure of black body, space, and culture. By layering this parable with the artist’s experience of coming out in the year 1999, Chase renounces the colonization of black queer bodies and confronts the complexity of an American motif.”
Firstly, I’d like to acknowledge my genuine feelings of being impressed with how smoothly you are able to “walk” around the gallery space. I really enjoyed clicking on each circle which brings you fairly close to each piece. Even though it’s not the same as physically getting up close and personal, this way of viewing art has been a god-send for those who can’t get to or don’t feel comfortable going to art galleries or museums right now.
Out of the four shows mentioned in the Times article, I chose Chase’s because of his connection to the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, a school I went to for Illustration from August 2017-December 2018 before transferring to Marywood for the Spring 2019 semester. Lyndon’s work is a pretty good representation of what’s been bubbling the past few years in the UARTs painting department- lots of neons and a ton of expressionism.
A writer for Art Observed noted that Chase’s use of “autobiographical symbols into historical imagery…asks us to reconsider the canonical allegory of the cowboy and challenges the defining characteristics of American masculinity”; when you think of a typical film or painting depicting the ‘wild west’, you might automatically connotate the ‘west’ with white cowboys riding horses or cattle being herded, etc., but Chase’s solo show inserts himself, a Queer Black artist, into this world, breaking down barriers and disrupting old stereotypes of what the ‘wild west’ should look like. As I’m writing this, it also makes me think of Lil Nas X’s (another Queer Black artist) entrance into country music with his song “Old Town Road”. These two artists, one visual and one performance, offer a space of inclusivity and both successfully challenge what it means to be an American cowboy.
As for the virtual experience, I definitely feel more comfortable viewing art virtually simply because this is the safest option right now. Thankfully, we live in an age of technological omnipresence where all kinds of art can be looked at online. That doesn’t mean I won’t be very excited the day I can walk into a gallery space or a museum in a non-pandemic-torn world. Until then, I hope you have a great rest of your week, and please stay safe and wear your mask!