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Statement and Information


The foundation of my work over the past several years is rooted in the exploration of anonymous images on the Internet and notions of identity, gender, race and international security.  The Internet is the public space of the 21st century, rich in imagery and a place where contemporary human drama is played out.  Following the art historic line of late 19th century and 20th century artists who presented “everyday people” as a lens into the zeitgeist of the era, my work too shuns the celebrity obsession that has developed over the past several decades and instead focuses on the anonymous faces that define the current age.


Pairing the post-modern practice of sampling images with traditional large formal oil painting as well as mixed media constructions using light boxes, computer motherboards and other materials, the work is intended to isolate and uncover transitory moments and expressions that provide insight into not the subjects as individuals but as barometers of a broader collective whole. The images are all drawn from posted videos, versus still images. This gives me greater freedom to select, edit, isolate, frame and scale the images that have the most relevance for the issues I am exploring.


Moreover, unlike portraiture or depictions of celebrities and personalities whose lives are known, these subjects’ personal narratives are unknown and anonymous by their nature. And while the work is primarily intended to use this in an extended observation and commentary on selected social, cultural and security issues – the effect of employing images of anonymous people, whatever the source, has the unintended effect on me as the artist of forcing a personal internal dialogue while creating the work – driven by the choice of images, my own reaction to the image and the manner in which the images are presented.  This then becomes a curious and revelatory experience about my own identity as well as the anonymous people portrayed in the work.


These themes and elements have been a consistent thread in my work first explored through a series of large format oil paintings that examined the psychology of posting personal images on the Internet with the reciprocal psychology of viewing these images (Anonymous Women Series, Motet in Green with Three Large Panels and the Motherboard Series).

 

Subsequent work drew on video images of the People’s Liberation Army Militia during the 2010 Chinese Military Parade in Beijing, China that probed themes of race, military culture, use of gender in propaganda and the potential significant change to global security and international structural norms. An ensuing series drew images from archival video of audience members who in February 1964 and September 1965 watched as the Beatles performed live on the Ed Sullivan Show. The ironic title of this assembled piece celebrates the juxtaposition of physical expressions on the men (shock) and women (awe) and provides insight into the reorientation of Western culture and the difference between “shock and awe” of the 1960s and in 2003.   Here selected images printed on acetate are set in 12 plastic and wood representations of 1960’s television sets.


The most current work has a direct physical link to my previous work as small select samples from paintings produced in 2009-2010 have been repurposed and physically embedded within photos taken by me of the interior of the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum. This series examines notions of the value of art, the aesthetics of mid-twentieth century Modernism as well ideas about fame and notoriety. In addition, the work is a visual play on scale and context and reinforces the theme of repurposing and recycling which is a central aspect of my current work.


Tom CULORA is a visual artist working in Rhode Island in the United States. He is BFA graduate of the School of Visual Arts in New York where he was a full-scholarship student.  He was also a former US Navy pilot, ship captain, strategic advisor, planner and researcher. He holds two masters degrees in International Relations and in Strategic Studies, and has been a fellow at Harvard University in Boston and at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.  He currently holds the position as a Dean, at the US Naval War College.