Lauren Elizabeth Cunningham
Working Artist Project 2010-2011 Studio Assistants, MOCA GA

Currently on display at MOCA GA are artworks from three visual artists who served as studio assistants for the Working Artist Project during the 2010-2011 year. One of the exhibiting artists, Stephen Calsbeek, presents an up-close and personal view of farm life in his photograph The Neighbor Cow (2011). The image captures a cow eyeing the camera suspiciously, while the rest of the curious herd flocks towards the photographer. This pastoral scene functions more like a portrait, humanizing an animal for which many people have little regard. The photograph's equal-sided format reinforces the ideal of humanity, while the green grass and blue skies temper the image's didacticism with a cheerful lightheartedness. Overall, Calsbeek succeeds in propagating respect for his bovine subjects.

Hanging opposite Calsbeek's photograph, Luis Sierra's painting on wood panel, Conversations, depicts the scene in The Wizard of Oz in which Dorothy and Scarecrow oil Tin Man's rusted mouth so that he may speak again. However, this iconic moment has been visually compromised. The Technicolor has been reduced to black and white. Furthermore, the forest in the background and parts of the character's bodies have been erased. The image's incompleteness befits its subjects, who are missing a heart, a brain, and a way home. In addition to removing content from the scene, the artist has also added small silver blocks that look like pixels. However, whereas pixelation normally indicates a loss of intrinsic information, the shiny squares feel unconnected to Sierra's largely monochromatic painting. Conversations is a perplexing impression of modern life, as it speaks to the enduring legacy of The Wizard of Oz and the pervasiveness of computers in contemporary culture.