Mass culture, by definition, permeates our lives. I remember my daughter at the age of two walking down the aisles of a toy store, pointing to every product and singing its jingle. And although we like to think that we have become inured to the siren song of bigger, better, happier, wiser, we can't help but wonder, at least occasionally, if a particular product or promise might not help us achieve personal fulfillment or social improvement. Fortunately, the artists in Complicit! are mining those mass-produced materials and messages and creating some of the most unusual, insightful, and exciting fine art today.
Complicit! Contemporary American Art and Mass Culture extends the discussion begun by Johanna Drucker, Robertson Professor of Media Studies at the University of Virginia, in her 2005 book Sweet Dreams: Contemporary Art and Complicity. Under her guidance, the project became a collaborative effort, and for the past two years, we have worked closely together along with Andrea Douglas, the Museum's curator of collections and exhibitions, and two of our graduate students, Luzak Fellows Laura Orgon-MacCarthy and Catherine Mitchell. Each has had a major role in selecting artists and specific works, confirming loans, raising funds, and preparing the interpretative materials, including this CD, and our first venture into podcasting. Jean Collier, the Museum's collections manager, Ana Marie Liddell, preparator, and Meredith Pitts and Charlotte Miller, two of our undergraduate student interns, helped us realize the ambitious curatorial vision. Andrew Plemmons Pratt, an exceptional English graduate student, designed the exhibition logo, its website and the CD.
>> Click here to listen to an interview with Johanna Drucker and hear her discuss the exhibition.
On behalf of this team, we thank the artists for sharing their art, time, and thoughts with us and their galleries and collectors for the generous loans. We are deeply grateful to the many supporters of this show, who gave us the encouragement and means to realize such an extensive presentation of contemporary American art on this theme: University of Virginia Art Museum Volunteer Board, the FUNd, Arts Enhancement Fund, Art$, Arts Board, University Council for the Arts, Digital Media in the Robertson Media Center, Media Studies Program, Barbara and Richard Lane and Apple Computer, Inc.
It has been an honor to work with Johanna Drucker on Complicit! Her brilliance, professionalism, energy and dedication made us all look forward to every stage of its development. Dare I say that it was even fun? I hope that viewers of the CD and visitors to the exhibition will emerge with a fresh perspective on contemporary American culture and the art it has engendered as well as a sense of the creative complicity we enjoyed in bringing this exhibition to you.
University of Virginia Art Museum Volunteer Board
Arts Enhancement Fund
University Council for the Arts
Digital Media Lab in the Robertson Media Center
Media Studies Program
Barbara and Richard Lane
Heather and Tony Podesta Collection, Falls Church, VA
Apple Computer, Inc.