A Wonderful Thank You

To all of those who attended our MFA Thesis exhibition "Six Trick Pony", and for all of those who have guided and supported us throughout our collegiate career!

"Cullman, AL" Mixed media on wood. 36" x 36" 2013


The Creation of the Southern Icon

  The success of the Southern icon is deeply rooted in the events following the Civil War, aka the "Lost Cause". After the fall of the Confederacy, there was a strong sense of guilt and a need for salvation from people who strived to comprehend the mass destruction and loss they experienced after so many years of righteousness ideology and propaganda they were accustumed to. Post-war Southerners struggled to get behind figures that not only embodied another rise of their self righteousness, but also portrayed the success of "rags to riches". Author Richard Weaver notes that "what the Southerner desired above all else in religion was a fine set of images to contemplate". In a place so deeply rooted in religious practices such as the South, it's hard to distinguish the secular, everyday images from subconscious religious intent. Two clear examples are found in Elvis Presley and Paul "Bear" Bryant.

Both Bryant and Elvis came from poverty stricken backgrounds and achieved major success in their fields, while also maintaining an image of humbleness that followed them till the end (think Elvis's career in gospel music). 

Paul "Bear" Bryant pictured front left.
Elvis Aaron Presley, 1936.

To create a comparison between these two seems absurd to many people, in relation to their lifestyles. Elvis's flashy image of a teen heart throb rebel, later turned Vegas rhinestone god, doesnt suit well to the stoic, soft spoken giant that was Paul Bryant; yet overtime these two icons shared the same fate in life and in death. It is important to understand that icons are never stationary. If they survive the test of time, it's because they adapt, lose meaning, or take on a new identity. 

"Elvis was notable for transcending the past. As in not reminiscing of his poor upbringing. His 1970's persona was a Southern version of a royal performance that placed Presley far outside, and above, the experiences of ordinary mortals" - Charles Regan   


Bryant's establishment as an icon came from his impeccable record as a football coach, his dedication to developing people outside of players, and his humble approach to success. Bryant was the bain of coaches in his own conference, but when he crossed the Mason Dixon to face a foe on the gridiron, it was as if another Gettysburg was going to ensue. The cultural division was present, and formed again as salvation vs damnation, right vs wrong, Alabama vs Notre Dame. The mindset is all too clear, but the crowd has traded their muskets and hard tack for houndstooth hats and Coca-Cola bottles.

Elvis and Bryant's demi god status came later after death. If the Bible ever taught me anything, outside of my love for science, it was that death always transcends the mortal man into something more. Like Jesus, another popular guy in the South, the righteous figure had fallen, and people scrounge for understanding, looking for the heroic models for human behavior and escape from the everyday world of self isolation that is Dixie.


Interactive Digital Artists Rafael Rozendaal and Mr. Doob

Within the past ten years of the art world, a surge of digital media artists have made their stamp in the fine art world through the merging of film, photography, scultpure and much more. However, 2 artists, Mr. Doob and Rafael Rozendaal, have also created their work from their past experiences with computer programming and design. The result is a culmination of fun, interactive platforms that allows the viewer to participate with, while not diminishing the fine art aspect of their work.

Born 1980, Dutch-Brazilian, lives and works everywhere.

"Rafaël Rozendaal is a visual artist who uses the internet as his canvas. His artistic practice consists of websites, installations, drawings, writings and lectures. Spread out over a vast network of domain names, he attracts a large online audience of over 15 million visits per year.
His work researches the screen as a pictorial space, reverse engineering reality into condensed bits, in a space somewhere between animated cartoons and paintings. His installations involve moving light and reflections, taking online works and transforming them into spatial experiences.

He also created BYOB (Bring Your Own Beamer), an open source DIY curatorial format that is spreading across the world rapidly.

Selected exhibitions: Venice Biennial, Valencia Biennial, Moca Taipei, Casa Franca Brasil Rio, TSCA Gallery Tokyo (solo), Spencer Brownstone Gallery NYC (solo), NIMk Amsterdam (solo), Stedelijk Museum project space (solo).

Selected press: Flash Art, Dazed & Confused, Interview Magazine, Wired Magazine, Purple Magazine, McSweeney’s, O Globo, Vice Magazine."


Though not as big as a splash in the traditional gallery setting as Rafael, Mr. Doob's experience as a Google programmer has led him to create amazing interactive WebGL sites.





The Quilts of Gee's Bend

Anyone who grew up in Alabama with a knack for the Fine Arts knows about the Quilts of Gee's Bend. Or at least I hope so, for the sake of Southern ego and historical reference. "Gee's Bend", aka Boykin, is a small, rural community in south Alabama founded by freed slaves after the Civil War, and from generations of harsh poverty within the community sprung forth a cultural phenomenon in the art world. Now, you dont have to be a scholar in cultural identity to know that the poor have always composed the backbone of American culture in the U.S. (and by far the deep south), and that as poor Southerners, or just poor in general, you have to make due with whatever you have. Nothing goes to waste. This culmination of harsh living and limited resources ends up in extremely well crafted shapes and patterns of quilts created by the locals of Gee's Bend. To me, these works of art are parallel to the Harlem Renaissance, the influence of the Cubism and Expressionist movement, and much more. Their work has been shown internationally, and is in the collection of the MOMA. All of this, from a poor ass town in south Alabama.

for more info on the "Quilts of Gee's Bend", check out their website at www.quiltsofgeesbend.com





A big thank you

to all who came out to UCF MFA's first open studio in cunjunction with CITYARTS and ORLANDO SLICE. We had a great turnout and are already looking forward to future events!