Throughout my series, I Believe in Ghosts, I reference vanitas — 17th century Dutch still lifes — to draw on the tradition of sharing a moral lesson. Vanitas paintings present an array of objects as symbols to remind us of the transience and vanity of human existence and earthly possessions and pleasures. My modern interpretation of vanitas puts the female figure directly in the composition, exploring transience of innocence, value, and agency relating to female identity. I use symbolism and allusion to convey the tension between objectifying the female body and recognizing the rich interiority of the female subject.
Objects have histories, yet are unable to speak them — what does it really mean to treat women as objects?
Today I wanted to share my painting Bald Eagle which I made to be representative of women taking stronger and more prominent roles in politics -- Notice the feather quills on her blouse -- She's rewriting history! I'm with Kamala Harris and wish her and Joe Biden every success.
I'm pleased to share that my 2016 painting, America: She Was Asking For It, was included in an important new book, Not Normal: Art in the Age of Trump.
I am one of 147 artists responding to socio-political issues in the age of Trump. While the content is serious, flipping through the pages is cathartic. This powerful collection of 350+ artworks was curated by Karen M. Gutfreund, Independent Curator.
Copies of "Not Normal" are available to purchase here.
America: She Was Asking For It was born in a nightmare I had on the night of the 2016 presidential election. It depicts a revealing portrait of not only America’s elected Head of State but also his wife and Vice President and Mrs. Pence.
A variety of symbols evoke both an immediate visceral reaction, such as the confederate flag, as well as an ongoing discovery of depravity represented as small painted details, such as the pins, that reveal contradictions and hypocrisy.
I utilized the bright coloring effects of gouache to capture the flashy tone of media imagery and intentionally made the work small to emphasize the insufficient attention and transitory coverage given to these issues by the media.
Me and I and her and she all come together for a visual update on the evolution of I Believe in Ghosts.
Left to right:
We Hunt the Doe, oil on linen, 42 x 49 inches, work in progress
Ourself Behind Ourself, Concealed, oil on linen, 51 x 39 inches, July 2020
Minds Pass Minds Be They Occupied, 50 x 68 inches, oil on linen, work in progress
This is the third painting in my series, I Believe in Ghosts, and one of the pieces I've been most keen to paint. I've been vigorously working to cover the canvas and see the the image come to life at it's intended size. Work in progress, "We Hunt the Doe," oil on linen, 42 x 49 inches.
Victory! I've completed the first pass over this BIG canvas, aka the fourth painting in my series, I Believe in Ghosts, which simply means every surface now has paint on it. Next I will begin making corrections and refining what's on the canvas. Then it's on to color! Work in progress, oil on linen, 50 x 68 inches.
Like so many others, I am currently under orders to shelter-in-place due to Covid 19. As an artist and introvert, this practice doesn't greatly impact my typical day-to-day, but I am aware that as much as I am content being alone, others are not. These are strange and uncertain times and it's in my heart to help lift spirits and alleviate some of the stress faced during this time of extreme change. With that, I would like to share an activity I made for you and the children in your life.
I've made two of my animal portraits into coloring pages that can be printed at home, colored and enjoyed. I hope these provide a little joy and entertainment. And I'd love to see what you create! Please share with me on instagram @jamie_luoto or use #ColoringWithJamie.
The beginnings of I Believe in Ghosts Portrait 4, title TBD.
I value opportunities to exhibit my artwork, both in traditional and non traditional spaces. Over the years, I've encounter a number of venues where they do not allow holes in the walls. This is 100% fine, however it puts a slight wrinkle in a fine-tuned hook and hammer system.
When "no holes" has been the case, the venue typically supplies some sort of hanging contraption or at the very least a suggestion for how to hang the work. However, using unfamiliar methods can cause mild worry because one always wonders things, such as 'will the work stay up?' and 'how much extra time will this new method take?'
Cut to my most recent "no holes" venue. The venue provided stationary hooks within light sconces and a suggestion of hanging the work with fishing line. Fishing line is a very fiddly material that stretches and bounces and requires special knowledge of knots, else they undo themselves. Also, one can't count on accurate measurements when tying knots -- just imagine trying to get all of the pieces the same height and level. Sounds unnecessarily nightmarish, which brings me to my discovery of STAS Picture Hanging Systems.
For my purposes, I purchased clear cords with loops and adjustable zipper hooks that hold up to 30 lbs. weight. Hanging the show (pictured below) was literally a breeze! STAS has many hanging solutions with various lengths and weight allowances, so if you find yourself in a "no holes" situation, I highly recommend checking them out.
November has been a focused period of production for me. I am deep into the creation of my newest work, title yet to be revealed, and am very happy with the progress thus far. During my October open studio I shared images, content and research that is informing future works in I Believe in Ghosts, and below you can see two of the studies I made in preparation for this current large piece I am creating. I've also included two in progress detail shots of my new painting (last images).
Create something from nothing, or bringing my work to life is a process I will never tire of. Painting is meditative for me and while in this state, I'm essentially intensively studying the work which results in more of the purpose and meaning surfacing. I am challenged by this work, so happy to be making it and extremely excited to share this piece when complete.
I created this space to showcase my past work, chronicle my current projects, and share my inspiration.