The ETSU Department of Art & Design and Slocumb Galleries present “The Fame Factory: An Exhibition of Andy Warhol Photographs” curated by Slocumb Galleries’ Interns Michael Hale, Shalam Minter and Grace Reff. The exhibition is on view from November 12 through November 21, 2012 and is co-sponsored by the Mary B. Martin School of the Arts, the College of Arts & Sciences’ Office of the Dean and ETSU Career Services.. A public reception will be held on Friday, November 16 from 5 to 7 p.m at the Slocumb Galleries.
The exhibition features original Andy Warhol polaroid and black & white photographs from the ETSU Department of Art & Design Permanent Collection, a grant received from the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy in 2008. The works selected for the exhibition explore the idea of fame and provoke questions concerning the creation of celebrity.
Warhol, the father of American Pop Art movement, pushed the envelope in artistic practice in various ways. As the popularity of his work gained momentum, such as the Campbell soup cans and Brillo box paintings, Warhol’s fame and notoriety as an artist increased significantly as well. Soon enough, socialites and celebrities alike were commissioning him for portraits, with Warhol’s astute business sense and training in commercial arts, churning works in his art studio, called “The Factory,” Warhol became not only a creator of art, but also a creator of fame.
Intern curator Grace Reff juxtaposes polaroids of celebrity figures alongside photographs of virtually unknown socialites. She says, “The dichotomy explores the transference of fame and questions whether or not there is an osmosis to celebrity. Do the socialites in turn become more famous because of their location on the wall next to more conventionally famous celebrities or because both were shot by the same photographer?”
Warhol’s fascination with fame was not limited to people, his interests extended to objects and various things. One of the intern curators Michael Hale chose images of ordinary, defamiliarized’ objects that Warhol captured with his lens. Hale says, “The everyday items he used took on a more elevated status making them [in]famous in pop culture. He took the things we look at daily and turned them into the modern mass produced marvels” that they have become after the Warhol process.
While both Reff and Hale focused on the subjects of Warhol’s fame factory, Intern curator Shalam Minter focuses on Warhol’s artistic process, the production of his paintings from polaroid image via silk-screen printing. Her selected Warhol polaroid images are examples of the kind of editing Warhol performed on the subjects, in order to create the perfected look. She explains, “When Warhol had an overweight or elderly client, which happened often, he would perform “plastic surgery” [on the blown up photographic] images before making it into a silk-screen. He did this by scissoring out bags under the eyes, double chins, jowls, pimples and wrinkles; he later started having them covered in a white base to erase perfections, lessening the amount of editing he had to do.”
Minter provokes questions on the formation of fame, asking, “Is this how fame is created? By getting rid of or hiding what is thought to be undesirable, so that you can present yourself as something or someone that people find more palatable?”
The exhibition works as a whole to reinvestigate how fame is created and reveal Warhol’s role in that creation. The collaboration between curators challenge the level of stardom of the lesser known works as they are related to those more popular images.
The Slocumb Galleries’ events are open to the public free of charge. Gallery hours are Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with extended hours during receptions and scheduled tours. If you would like to contact the intern curators, email Michael Hale at firstname.lastname@example.org, Shalam Minter at email@example.com or Grace Reff at firstname.lastname@example.org. To contact the Slocumb Galleries’ Director, email Karlota Contreras-Koterbay at email@example.com. The Slocumb Galleries are located at Ernest C. Ball Hall along Sherrod Drive, ETSU Campus. For event postings, please visit http:/www.etsu.edu/cas/art/Slocumb/aspx or go to ETSU PlanIt Calendar under the Museum/Galleries or Visual Arts categories.
By Grace Reff