Pamela Michelle Johnson, Painter, Chicago, IL
This week we got a sugar fix with artist Pamela Michelle Johnson. We were drawn to her amazingly realistic paintings of junk food.
Teetering towers of hamburgers, drippy stacks of syrupy waffles, sticky piles of sugary candy… Junk food. It’s the taste of America. It is what we eat. It is who we are. The insatiable American appetite is set on a path of consumption. Devouring to the point where we are left with nothing, nothing but the consequential garbage. Quintessentially American, junk food is not just part of our diet, it epitomizes our cultural ideals and social norms. Through my work, I strive to invoke reflection on a culture focused on mass-consumption and mass-production, where the negative aspects of overindulgence are often forgotten or ignored. The work questions a culture that equates fulfillment, pleasure and happiness with what we consume.
The heightened realism of these paintings serves to remind viewers that this is a mirror to our culture. Overbearing scale and gluttonous quantities, juxtaposed against foods that are both tempting and comforting, examine the conflict between enjoying the highly processed, artificially flavored bounty of American life and the progression to overindulgence and gluttonous excess. The work is both gross and enticing. Empty wrappers forgotten and abandoned in a world of nothingness, question the sustainability of our excesses. The use of intense lighting and deep shadows coupled with exaggerated scale and unique compositions updates the classical notion of still life painting and gives it a contemporary twist.
For more on Johnson’s work visit her on the web.