Friday, January 22, 2016

The Cultural Landscape ~ The Humble TV Antennae as a Symbol of the Past

Rooftops, Circa mid 1990s
Recently I was asked to present a history of my artwork to the high school students where I will be in residence this winter through the Philadelphia Museum's Delphi Art Futures Program.  Like many artists who have made art over a period of years,  a variety of personal symbols develops and becomes a type of trademark in that artist's work. It often takes awhile to figure out why these symbols keep creeping least it did for me.

As a city dweller, I have frequently relied on public transportation; in particular, the Frankford El. (Here I must make reference to an old song titled You Can't Get To Heaven on the Frankford El)   Anyway, having spent many hours on the El gazing out the window, the images of city rooftops left an imprint on my subconscious.   As a result, works seldom looked finished to me without a TV antennae placed somewhere in the image.
Tuxedo, circa mid 1990s

When I presented this work to the students, I asked if they noticed anything. When pointing to the TV antennae as something present in most of the work, they would refer to it as "that thing with the lines going across".  Most of the students had no idea what a TV antennae was, which made sense for two reasons. One, these students grew up in the age of cable and satellite TV. In addition, since the high school I was at is on the edge of the city in a more suburban type setting, the urban landscape of last century was not familiar to them.

It then dawned on me how artwork does mirror the time in which it is made, and therefore, documents how society lived during a certain era. Years from now, if any of my work is still floating around, the main relevance of it may be the presence of the humble and once ubiquitous TV antennae as a symbol of what we did in our spare time in the mid to late 20th century.

To hear You Can't Get To Heaven on the Frankford El, click here 

Urban Renewal, Circa mid 1990s

By the Canal, circa mid 1990s

Trinity, Circa mid 1990s

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