Cress Gallery Presents 'A Day in the Life' 10/15 - 12/6

Oct 14, 2013

From a media release:

“A Day in the Life” by Michael Scoggins

October 15, 2013 – December 6, 2013

Diane Marek Visiting Artist October 14 – 18, 2013

Artist’s Public Lecture October 15, 5:30pm, UTC Fine Arts Center, room 356, followed by a public reception and exhibition opening in the lobby of the Fine Arts Center.

And in Gallery II of the Cress:

The World of Andy Warhol

Polaroids and gelatin-silver photographs by the master of Pop Art, Andy Warhol, from the UTC Permanent Collection of Art, gift of the Andy Warhol Foundation, 2007.

Admission is free and open to all. For more information visit

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Michael Scoggins examines the incongruities, irrationalities, and anxieties of our 21st century culture.  Supported by the legacies of the Dada and Pop Art movements, Scoggins objectifies paper materials common to communication and thought, most prominently the pages of the humble spiral bound notebook that he meticulously recreates by hand at colossal scale.  On these, Scoggins draws and scrawls often in the guise of his childhood alter-ego “Michael S.” appropriating not just popular imagery but written thought to reflect honest inquiry into the assumptions of our society and open a discussion about our cultural ideals and biases.  At times Scoggins folds, crumples, or tears the paper exposing its historical ephemerality as a metaphor for life. Interested in how he is affected by popular culture, mass media, and world events, and how these forces shape us all, personal observations become universal. The title of Scoggins’ exhibition is taken from that of a song published and released in 1968 written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and originally performed by their band The Beatles. The lyrics of “A Day in the Life” form a critique of the media and the mundane obsessions and indifferences of society. 1968 was also the year that Andy Warhol received a near fatal bullet wound from the gun of radical feminist and aspiring playwright Valerie Solanas, and both Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy were assassinated by gunshot. The year saw as well the intensification of the Vietnam War, the Tet Offensive and the Mai Li Massacre and the Chicago anti-war demonstrations during the Democratic Convention, the opening of the musical “Hair” on Broadway and the premiere of the television soap opera “One Life to Live”, the flight of Apollo 7 into space and the test detonation of a nuclear weapon named “Boxcar” in the Nevada desert, Yale University’s announcement that it would begin to admit women and the passage of the Civil Rights and the Gun Control Acts of 1968.  After forty-five years, we still struggle with peace, gun control, voting rights, civil rights, and gender equality while bombarded daily by media images, brand names and slogans, the cult of celebrity and reality TV, and the implications of the age of drones, from all of which Scoggins pulls his subject matter. The political awareness and ironic humor of Scoggins’ work and his appropriation of image, mark, and phrase are rich in artistic precedent. Dada pioneer Marcel Duchamp’s “L.H.O.O.Q” (1919) appropriated the iconic image from the Age of Reason, the Mona Lisa, pairing it with a popular phrase of French slang to question the ideals of society in the wake of World War I.  Neo-Dada’s Robert Rauschenberg freely appropriated everyday material in work such as his fifty-four foot long “Currents” (1970) reproducing two months worth of the front pages of actual newspapers.  Rauschenberg is quoted as saying that he worked “in the gap between art and life” as both he and Duchamp questioned the distinction between art object and everyday object. Scoggins also makes a strong nod to the visual expressionism of Cy Twombly and of Philip Guston whose motto was “we are image-makers and image-ridden”, to Pop artists Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, and the appropriation of text and phrase found in the work of 1980s post-pop artists Ed Ruscha, Barbara Kruger, and Jenny Holzer. Yet with such a dynamic lineage spanning nearly a century, Michael Scoggins’ work over the past decade is bravely and decidedly his own. Scoggins’ Cress Gallery exhibition “A Day in the Life” focuses on the subjects of military intervention and war, the politics and media spins that wrap around them, and the consumerism and economy that supports and drives them.  Scoggins mimics a range of styles employing what is necessary to convey his conceptual content from the stick figures of Army Men, Bad Guys  (2002) to the imagined full color cover of a Marvel Comics super hero issue G.I. Joe #53  (2013).  War is Good  (2010) is comprised of hundreds of small silkscreened and hand colored paper cutouts of cartoon-like tanks, fighter jets, bombs, explosions, jeeps, and soldiers armed and dressed in camouflage arranged in an immersive site specific wall installation. Along with Scoggins’ two-dimensional pieces, several three-dimensional works are featured including another large-scale, site-specific work Dog Fight  (2013) referencing state-of-the-art technologies of war in the sky and making its airborne debut at the Cress. Scoggins’ titles are short, descriptive, and carry no judgment. They simply are what is seen, offered to provoke the viewer’s full contemplation. His use of the markers and pencils of childhood and rudimentary language playfully parlayed across “papers” of distorted oversized scale are incongruous with the adult issues they address creating humor through irony and parody.  As humor naturally carries a form of critique, Scoggins resists the temptation of satire, which can often just create more of itself, and the danger of cynicism, a dead end through which nothing is gained.  Like our daily headlines, Scoggins’ exhibition reflects a world where war becomes a commodity and the future may seem no longer assured, as perhaps the future of the future itself becomes intervention. While the very nature of art and humor carries the sincere experience of its creator, exposure to art through the senses should open the mind to thought, introspection, and discourse. In the words of contemporary artist Ed Ruscha, “Art has to be something that makes you scratch your head.”

The work of Michael Scoggins in this exhibition appears courtesy of Adler and Company, San Francisco, Freight and Volume Gallery, New York, Diana Lowenstein Fine Art, Miami, Hilger Next Gallery, Vienna, Austria, and the artist’s studio.

Artist’s bio:

Born in Washington D.C., and raised in Virginia, Michael Scoggins holds a BA Political Science and a BA Studio Art from Mary Washington College, VA; and an MFA, Savannah College of Art and Design, GA. He attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2003 and has just completed a 2013 Fellowship at the MacDowell Colony.  His work is included in private and public collections to include the Hammer Museum of Art, Los Angeles; and the Museum of Modern Art, NYC.  Exhibiting in solo and group exhibitions both nationally and internationally, Scoggins is represented by Adler & Co., San Francisco; Diana Lowenstein Fine Arts, Miami; Freight & Volume, NYC; Saltworks, Atlanta; and Hilger Contemporary, Vienna, Austria.  Scoggins currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

The Cress Gallery of Art is located in the lobby of the UTC Fine Arts Center, 752 Vine Street, corner of Vine and Palmetto Streets, 37403. Visitors arriving before 5:00pm weekdays will find metered parking on Vine Street or may obtain a parking pass from Administrative Services Bldg. on Palmetto Street; after 5:00pm and on weekends visitors may park free in any campus lot not marked “24 hour reserved”.