Friday, March 14, 2008

Now for something completely different

I wanted to make a work of art that was a change of pace, so when I read about a juried show of unusual portraits of political figures, I decided to try my hand.

I made the collage above, titled "Promises, Promises," 20 inches square, made up of Xeroxed images of all 43 American presidents' mouths. I was interested in the abstract shapes that mouths make, and the idea that the identity of such world-famous figures could be made mysterious in an unexpected context. I was also (perhaps influenced by the current election) thinking of all the campaign promises that flowed from those 43 mouths in their day. Even the sincerest, best-intentioned politician will say whatever is necessary to get elected.

Despite the complicated lives of each of these men, and their varied public reputations whether deserved or not, they are all "equals" as pictures on this canvas. Here they are simply a group of people who were born, did their best during the brief time they had, and (except for four) died.

I also thought the trends were interesting. Apparently it wasn't considered "presidential" to smile for a while. Gerald Ford started something; from his portrait on, they all flashed their teeth. And the beards are a trip! For some years there, our presidents were some messy soup-eaters.

So now I'll try entering this piece in the show and see what happens. Whatever the outcome, I had fun with my little sideline project.


Anonymous said...


This work is fascinating!! It is great fun trying to identify the various mouths! I think you should do very well in the competition.


Catherine Carter said...

Marsha, thank you for the positive feedback. I love the ones that are just hair! (There's a mouth in there somewhere.) I'll keep you posted on where the work ends up.