About my work...

by Joy Learn

I have been working in the medium of collage since I was eight when my stepfather was art director of a national news magazine. He would often tote me along to the office where I would eventually get bored with the adult business of magazine production and take to a spare drafting table; cutting and pasting new images out of what else, old magazines.

I fell in love with the medium of paper, especially the glossy colourful and thick magazine pages. As my medium was based on magazines, I, naturally, was affected by the images and content of advertising that was, and is, in abundance. My constructed images began to take on a political content, perhaps subconsciously rebelling against the insidious oppression of individual ethic and value systems for market place commercialism. Issues concerning body image, financial status, power, gender roles and materialism began to make me question the true intentions of media and advertising. The role of media merely reflecting the public's already-in-place value structures, seemed false to me. The right of media and advertising to profit, by whatever means, from it's role of mirror in society, seemed to ignore any responsibility for message to, and affect on, the public.

We are shaped and trained to need and accept what the media thinks it can sell us. Therefore it is logical to expect this medium of message to be responsible for the repercussions.

This supply of nonsense was created and then the demand followed, not the other way around. An example of this would be, the hardsell material and self-improvement pitches of the twenties, in which advertisers encouraged hardworking people to go into the deep debt of layaway plans; in order to keep up with the Joneses' and aquire the daily 'necessary' conveniences of modern appliances. By the time the Depression began people lost even the little they had, even though it was almost paid for .

The motive of money and financial prospering is not, in and of itself, negative; but the extent to which the media and advertising was willing to go for greed, the boudaries that were, and are, crossed, as well as the social sicknesses that result from this greed, are very damaging. For this particular series, TRUE! ROMANCE, I have found myself attracted to nostalgic media because it is not only the beginnings of this phenomenon of advertising power, but also, artistically, I am attracted to it's energy, dynamic imagery and obvious dogmatism; as well as it's supposed reflection of the naive society of its time; the teens through to the fifties of this century.

We now laugh at its campy self-consciousness and exaggerated messages, but there is still an underlying and disturbing thread connecting the Then and Now of advertsing. Media only really began at the turn of the century and increased proportionately with the growth of communications technology. Thus, it is really only a twentieth-century phenomenon Were its beginnings really so cute and innocuous? Is Media more affecting and powerful, subliminal or otherwise, now, and therefore more dangerous? Or, has it merely been the same on going irresponsible use of influence and persuasion, as it ever was; only growing more sophisticated appropriately with our consciousness as a society?

Whatever the case, it can still be great eye-candy on some levels and for the strong, aware and discerning mind, an actual pleasure to the senses. It can be a study of our psychological experience in the Twentieth Century.

I do not feel I am a 'Political Artist' but rather an artist with some politics; using the artistic medium to explore and question myself and the world around me. I do believe strongly in art for art's sake and arrange my pieces as visual poems (non linear) using dynamic forms, energized compositions and experimental colour affectation.

So, get ready to enjoy good campy fun, with a somewhat disturbed edge!

Joy Learn

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Copyright by Joy Learn and learnyeats.com 1997