Disaster Fatigue, a solo exhibition by Rudy Shepherd, Penn State School of Visual Arts assistant professor, will be on display through Saturday, October 11, 2014, at Mixed Greens Gallery in New York, New York.
Disaster Fatigue consists of a barrage of Shepherd’s new paintings, drawings, video, and ceramics that address media saturation and the politics of representation, and presents the viewer with a journal-like recording of Shepherd’s focus for the last several years with glimmers of optimism.
Since 2007, Shepherd’s focus on representation has expanded to address the often-problematic way mass media illustrates its stories through sensationalized, but seemingly definitive, visual depictions of criminals and victims. A slow accumulation of drawn and painted portraits quickly escalated into a practice including near-daily drawings of the people Shepherd sees in the news. Through his lens, the news is filtered, sorted, and complicated. Heroes, villains, tragedies, and triumphs hang together in an arresting array. By rendering portraits of individuals who are sensationalized or even demonized by the media, Shepherd invites us to contemplate and pay homage to their complexity as human beings as well as the multifaceted nature of the stories and issues they represent.
In an attempt to counter the tragedy, conflict, and misunderstanding that pervade the work’s source material, Shepherd also imagines characters and produces objects with the power to heal personal and social ills. Although he proposes no solution, his “Healer” character (embodied by Shepherd himself) creates moments of collective reflection through videos and live performances that inspire viewers to consider the problems symbolized by Shepherd’s drawings and paintings. Shepherd’s sculptures, including ceramic healing devices and shaman-like idols, feel ceremonial and key to the eradication of the world’s negative energy.
A small series of cult leaders hangs quietly in the installation, reminding the viewer of other people who’ve searched for change, with often tragic results. Shepherd, hyper-aware of the news and misguided attempts for a solution, presents an emotional response to current events and the opportunity for creative dialogue between himself and his viewers.
For additional information on this exhibition, visit http://mixedgreens.com/exhibitions.html
Text courtesy of First Street Green.