I am in the process of working on a show called “Reverie Forest: Sanctuary for Strange Creatures. The backdrop will be the mid-century phenomenon Paint By Numbers. I see them as a window into the culture of the time as they represented people’s willingness to be regimented into brushing miscellaneous dictated shapes all while staying in someone else’s lines. I am fascinated by what makes people succumb to mindless conformity. Much like in America today, the early 1950’s had a political system that couldn’t tolerate opposition. The government preyed off of people’s hatred for outsiders, fear of nuclear war and losing freewill.
These “Strange Creature” portraits are made by altering, creating collages with pre-existing Paint By Numbers imagery and then painting them. I want to change the context of these traditional and almost saccharine looks at the culture and art at the time. These creatures are welcome into the forest to live peacefully when they might not fit into other cultures.
I am also interested in how people used there growing leisure in the early 1950’s and what allowed the middle class to have more time for themselves. Paint by Numbers allowed people to feel like they were entering the world of art at a time when being a liberal or an artist was dangerous.