'Venus and the Last Roundup' opens Saturday at the Arts Center

Jessica Christy's work may appear at first to be cartoonish, "camp" or even controversial according to 2007 standards. What the young graduate of Valley City State University is showing is the way we as a society place such value on how something...

Jessica Christy's work may appear at first to be cartoonish, "camp" or even controversial according to 2007 standards. What the young graduate of Valley City State University is showing is the way we as a society place such value on how something (or mainly someone) looks and how value is placed on that person based on social persona.

Interesting stuff, this.

Her show opens tomorrow and runs through Aug. 4 at the Arts Center. Her mother is Linda Whitney, art professor at VCSU, and noted artist in the region. As the saying goes, "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree" is a true adage for this young woman.

Whitney's work is interpretive yet very modern. Christy's is as well, but edgy in a different way. I would say her ideas are "Andy Warholish" ... in that she borrows images of famous people (whose images are iconographic and famous in themselves) and warps them her own way, distorted and manipulated yet possessing her own touch, her own idea regarding that finished product.

So-called "borrowed" im-ages can come from the public domain or, through "Fair use," can be copyrighted works. Public domain refers to works that have either been made available to unlimited reproduction by their creators or works whose creators have been dead 70 years, under current U.S. law. Fair use refers to a group of situations where reproducing copyrighted works is legal, including parody and commentary.


For those of us who lived through Warhol's "borrowed images" when he became a name in the 1950s and '60s culture, everything bad that could be said about using someone else's ideas and physical material was said. As we matured in our thinking artists began adopting other images for personal art statements.

If a scoop of ice cream on a cone said summer then a mere glimpse of a Good Humor Bar said an even different tale. Magazine ads, publicity shots, newspaper clippings, etc., became fair fodder for use in collages, subliminal advertisements and even fine art. A greater story could be told in a simple work if an idea was alluded to with a motto, logo or iconographic photo incorporated into a composition.

A statement in the Arts Center's July newsletter reads: "She (Christy) incorporates aspects of everyday culture and society into her artwork. She identifies social statements among the mundane and displays them through popular culture and icons."

The example showed a photograph of Marilyn Monroe without eyeballs or mouth that Christy used in capturing the bigger meaning.

Here's a painting of a Monroe photograph, the headdress of the Statue of Liberty, a title that says it all, "The Americana Demise of Mrs. Warren Ludy," and you have all the stories associated with the movie star here in the USA and the way things were in the 1950s, when women were known not by their own name but as Mrs. so-and-so. Her mixed media tell about a time in women's history, about the goals women had and have, kings, queens, dreams of little girls, and the role a movie star played in Camelot.

Symbolism is powerful in art works. Generally, artists use symbols that are meant to be understood by a specific audience. Anyone who was around that November day in 1963 will be able to associate the painting's links with the president, his family, their tragic lives and all the fame that carried them and her into mythical history.

Without making her piece obvious, she speaks to an audience that can complete her story. For one so young she is making headway with her work. When she completes her graduate work it will be exciting to see where she is then.

Classes for adults and children are ongoing at the Arts Center.


These include a memoir workshop for adults seeking to get beyond the diary or journal. The instructor, Larry Woiwode, noted author and current creative writing professor at Jamestown College, is reason enough to take the class. Call 251-2496 to register for the July 24 class. It will run from 1 to 4 p.m. that day. The fee of $35 includes a copy of Woiwode's book, "What I Think I Did."

For the youngsters, Dina Laskowski is teaching a kid's class in jewelry making: there are still openings in sculpture, drawing and printmaking. And for the adults there are still openings in hardanger and beading. Call the above number to register.

If anyone has art-related activities to include in this column, write: "Art Voices," c/o Sharon Cox, PO Box 1559, Jamestown, ND 58402-1559.

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