Featured Artist SHAWN HUCKINS was first introduced to painting when he inherited his grandmother’s oil painting set at a young age. After dabbling in architecture and film studies and traveling the world a fair bit, Huckins eventually circled back to painting and graduated from Keene State with a major in Studio Arts. Huckins has since been inspired by everything from 18th century American portraiture to 20th century Pop artists and preoccupies his work with a contemporary discourse on American culture.
The American __tier series explores 19th century American painting and photography in context of 21st century lexicons — Facebook status updates, tweets, texting acronyms — that permeate today’s popular culture. The An American Revolution Revolution series explores 18th century American painting and portraiture in context of the same.
The process is a methodical replication of the original work, each painted by hand followed by the superimposition of large white letters, also painted, of social media jargon. The frontier and the American Revolution were conceived through an exchange of a few well-formed ideas communicated in person and by handwritten letters. Imagine what Lewis & Clark could have done with the internet while exploring the American west. Imagine what George & Co. could have done with the Internet.
Technology influences how much we know and what we believe, as well as how quickly and intelligently we convey our ideas. But does how we communicate govern the value of what we communicate? The physical act of typing very fast on small devices has undeniably impacted spelling, grammar and punctuation, encouraging a degree of illiteracy that has become the new social norm. As goes our grammatical literacy, do our social and cultural literacies follow? Are we in a continuing state of the debasement of language? But who are we to say that ‘twerk’ and ‘selfie’ are not valid forms of communication?