Seth Alverson ( THUNDERDOME )

May 19, 2006 – July 1, 2006

Artist Statement

“Sometimes I think my work is just fantasy art with intentional references to a variety of subjects. The nature of the work comes from my intuitive choice of imagery, which topically lies in the concepts of fantasy, status, existential depravity, and everything nefarious. The subject matter that I’m drawn to are things like (but not limited to) oceans, boats, sea monsters, mastodons, pterodactyls and other prehistoric animals, mountains, plants and landscapes in general, fancy clothes, warriors, battle, death and violence in general, wall paper, fur, and sacrificial animals. I think I’m fascinated with the depraved and apathetic undercurrents of humanity. The process of feeling my way through each piece starts with that proclivity and for some reason usually ends with something that looks like an improbable campy narrative. I’m not sure, but those things(the process and the outcome) might be unrelated.

I start with a nebulous idea, usually some sort of scene with some sort of mood, and then isolate certain elements to see if they work for me. The initial scenario is always too complicated or not compatible with what I want so editing and revising is extensive. I use a sketchbook to refine those details and find a fitting composition. After my intuitions are satisfied, I start the visual research. Sometimes I take photos myself, sometimes I use the Internet to find images of things I don’t have immediate access to, like goats and mountains. Then I make a final composite line drawing of the source material and (to save time and energy) project it onto a canvas that I make to fit the proportions of the final drawing. Those lines get traced to insure fidelity. Painting is the last step. That takes the most time.

The drawings follow the same process except I don’t project anything because the materials are small enough to manage in a timely manner. And, of course those are drawn with a pen instead of painted with brushes.

I view this work as explicitly conceptual. In this regard, I want to make pieces that don’t have (need) exterior explanation. I’m interested in self-contained images that aren’t dependent on any specified context-that can be processed without having to read a plaque or listen to an audio tour. Since I don’t have a didactic reason for making any of this work and since subjectivity bars any unified experience of it, I shy away from a committed standpoint of intentional meaning. My interests in this context lie in the underpinnings of mood and existentialism, especially in the focus of nothing having any inherent meaning or value. I purposefully make references but never precisely point to the piece being about any one specific thing. The content thus lies in an uncomfortable middle ground between nothing in particular at all. Depending on what the viewer brings or adds, I like thinking that my work is potentially meaningless, or at least ambiguous. If anything is to be gleaned from this work and I had to choose a direction, I would like the viewer to maybe walk away with a vague sense of apathy, or frustration, or homeostasis, or subversion, or imminent doom.

I’ve been told that my work is also themed around masculinity and gender. That all of the imagery I choose is typically considered very masculine and that I treat it with absurdity, or sometimes blur the line between male and female. The work apparently is also rather homoerotic in some regard. Whether or not those concepts are socially, arbitrarily, or axiomatically defined, I don’t know. I do however understand that this work could raise questions of that nature. I’ve also been told that the surfaces of these pieces are treated with an all-over type of care where everything is in sharp focus, which causes a lack of emphasis in subject matter. If everything is important, nothing specific is. This causes them to look distilled and distanced. They have a tedious droning quality that lacks emotion or at least insight into what I actually think about what I’m painting.The work doesn’t look serious because of this, or that I’m making fun of whatever it is the painting is about, which isn’t clear to begin with. At the same time it seems like I spent plenty of time and energy on making this not-so-serious piece. In some context they are apathetic and in another they are highly concentrated.Yet in another context they are serious but also insincere and defensive. This is all evidence that I have a packaging problem – that this work is not presented coherently. Ultimately, the central theme is unclear”