2021 Grad Show

Chase Swartz

AUArts Grad Show IMG_0330



In my practice I have been exploring the way popular images, such as those found in lifestyle magazines, on billboards, and in social media feeds, position and maintain a status quo, reflecting certain woeful cultural values such as celebrity, luxury and consumption.  Through a close analysis of these images, I am able to reconstruct them, with myself as subject, in order to undercut their traditional connotation.  Text has become a vital feature in my work, a result of the way I view language as a cornerstone of expression, perception and cultural understanding.  I use text as a tool to disrupt or subvert conventional expectations in relation to the accompanying imagery.

Artist Profile (Editorial)

A quick dive through the recent decades of art history will display the larger than life personalities of the most famous artists exhibited. Mythologies are created around them, often with care, by the artists themselves, leaving room for doubt by later scholars. The stories repeat themselves, as all good stories do; the starving artist; the eccentric; the ego-maniac. They become cliché, they become homage, they become ironic self-commentary, but they maintain. Approaching the series from this direction allowed me to question how these images create and preserve societal expectations placed on individuals, in this case, the artist, while also working to dissect them, through the use of multiplicity and juxtaposing text.

DIScontent / ADverse

In these series' the work borrows it’s style and materials from popular media, specifically lifestyle magazines such as Vogue, and Vanity Fair, their increasing presence online, through publishing, and the social media trend of lifestyle-branding. We are constantly inundated with branded messages maintaining and propelling broader societal values around ideas of class, race, gender, sexuality, etc. But what are the morals routinely expressed by these images? Consumption, luxury, individualism, celebrity, "beauty." Are these really our highest cultural standards? While my reconstructions reflect the same qualities used in high profile publications, they also work to subvert their traditional connotations.


“The sign is the vehicle for making presently felt the potential force of the objectively absent.”

“A sign, as such, dynamically determines a body to become.”

-Brian Massumi


I have taken a lot of inspiration from the Situationist Movement of the 1960’s as I attempt to critique the values of a capitalist culture to prompt a reimagining of the world. I am doing this through my own “situations,” placing the work in public spaces where they are intended to be interventions, interruption’s to the banality of everyday life, and a site for provocation, following Guy Debord’s claim that, “that which changes our ways of seeing the streets is more important than what changes our way of seeing painting." When viewing the work in public, it resists commodification, not existing as something to be bought or sold but simply to be experienced.


Text has become a major feature of my work, a reflection of the way language serves a cornerstone for expression, perception, and cultural understanding. I use text as a way to subvert conventional expectations around the accompanying imagery, space or object. They say, "The personal is political," and I have been exploring this notion by bringing more of myself into the work, introducing aspects which are not immediately political, but which become so through their context. In this series, the sunset, an often romanticized notion, is juxtaposed by the bleak text, referring to environmental disaster and the fatalistic mentality it can provoke.

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