Artist Exposition: Jay Potts

Jay Potts


Dualities and the Human Condition

My art concerns itself with dualities, primarily the divergent constituents of the human identity. The spiritual and the physical; the inward and the outward identities.

Our outward identity is defined by idiosyncrasy. We have free choice to do as we please, be who we want to be, believe what we want to believe in. It is unrestricted choice and freedom that shapes who we are and who we choose to become.

Although we have little control over it, our inward identity is a manifestation of the truer self.

These divergent constituents of the human identity mean that we are in constant conflict with ourselves and the desires of the mind and body.

So, what does it mean to be human? How does one lead a cohesive life if the foundation of our identity is based on division? William Blake describes the human experience as the balance between joys and woes and how it manifests as the “divine clothing” that all men wear. But what happens when there is an imbalance? This question is still something that I ponder and its exploration forms the foundation of my artistic investigation into insanity and the morally corrupt.

Dylan Storm Roof

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Size: 61 x 76 cm

Medium: Oil on Birch Board

Independent Project

From Lombroso to Warhol, there’s a rich history of depicting criminals in art. This portrait is a part of an ongoing investigation into sanity and insanity and the human condition. Depicted is Dylann Storm Roof: a racist, bigot, and most notably a mass murderer who killed nine people at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015. I believe he is the embodiment of evil and insanity. Painting his mug shot in as much detail as possible, and with dramatically redder features and darker eyes, is a way to put a face to insanity.

(In)sanity

201511251709.pdfSize: 101.6 x 69.6cm

Media: Pen, marker, ink, chalk pastel, charcoal, acrylic, and graphite on paper

School Project

This piece concerns itself with the issue of insanity. The bottom right is dedicated to the façade that is presented (containment) to hide the underlying issue (tainted) that is depicted on the second half of the piece. The first half is symmetrical and is loaded with detail, suggesting control, whereas the second half shows disorder and chaos. The middle bar is ambiguous, representing the fine line between control and disorder. Interestingly, the piece tested my own sanity since painfully creating symmetrical details made me go crazy, and going crazy by experimenting liberated me.

Gut Feeling

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Size: 120 x 110 cm

Media: Oil on Plywood

School Project

Visceral reactions to trauma are generally felt in the stomach. Late in the morning on New Year’s Day, my cousin was stuck by a train and suffered serious internal damage to both his brain and his organs. When I heard the news, I felt as though I was going to vomit. To cope with this trauma and to make sense of the situation, I painted an abstract version of the internal organs with a train’s light piercing through an ambivalent, blood red mist in the background. The continuous black line varies in thickness to demonstrate my own confusion, while depicting the cause of my cousin’s sufferings: his organs. The process of painting an unbroken line for 3 months representing mending and it’s completion meant healing.

 

Broken Homesimage-4

Size: 67 x 68.5 x 15.4 cm

Media: Acrylic, Balsa, and Basswood

School Project

This sculpture commemorates the lives of the 20 innocent children that were lost during the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012. The arrangement of houses is symmetrical, yet unstable, representing the systematic way in which the murders were executed, and the fragile state the homes of the victims’ were left in after the shooting. The houses are simplistic, much like that of a children’s drawing. Painting the houses in black and white enforces the idea that no race or creed was exempt from victimhood. The small red house upside down is the portrayal of the shooter, Adam Lanza, who acted on his own accord. This is at the top of the sculpture to show his control over the victims.

 

99 cent solutions

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Size: 122 x 122 x 17 cm

Media: Ink on cardstock, polyactide thermoplastic

Assembled Media: Digital scans collected from a variety of internet, print based sources, pegboard, peg hooks, cellophane

We don’t live in a utopia. There’s no such thing as a “quick fix”. If the cure was simply taking a pill, mental illness would be a thing of the past. By using insensitive captions paired with 1950s illustrations, the goal with this project is to expose the flaws in the logic of those who remain adamant that mental illness is something that one can “just get over”. Mental illness is a serious and prevalent issue that we should be tackling by prescribing recipes, not solutions.

 

Vices of Man

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Size: 62.3 x 63.4 x 20.3 cm

Media: Pine, particleboard, balsa wood, plexiglass, plastic, steel, cooper, aluminum, glass, paper, cardboard, clay, LED lights, acrylic, plastic

Inspired primarily by the mannerisms, behavior and mental processes of Patrick Bateman; the main character in American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis, I sought to explain how a human’s double identity can be contained within a single body. Bateman is a sociopathic and psychopathic serial killer contained within the body of a well-groomed, successful, banker on Wall Street. He’s lustful, narcissistic, manipulative, and unrelenting in his wrath. Ultimately, Bateman serves as the archetype for the same processes and desires that govern us all, except on a more extreme level. Vices of Man, categorizes and contains the elements that corrupt our identity, more specifically; the traits Bateman presents which are responsible for his actions. The installation contains and displays each vice/trait within wooden compartments separated by Plexiglas. The breakdown for the symbolism of the objects within the containers is as follows:

– The containers filled with various items and objects (flowers, shiny surfaces, etc…) is meant to represent a lack of remorse and empathy. The lovely constituents of the human condition are bottled and sealed as Bateman does not and cannot access them.

– The mouse traps represent his aptitude at manipulating others who fall victim to his outward identity.

– The journal with no content is representative of his superficial charm and shallowness of emotion. Bateman is unable to define himself by a distinctive personality and thus appears as a vessel with no real content, much like the empty journal.

– The shades with the light behind it demonstrate pathological lying and how although he may present himself as honest and pure (like the light), you can’t tell what he’s hiding or what his true intentions may be as they are masked.

– The series of chairs with a single white chair in the middle represent his grandiose notion of self-worth. This symbolism plays with irony because although he thinks he’s superior and special, in reality he’s just like everyone else.

– The apple with a bite taken out of it represents impulsiveness and constant need for stimulation. The apple alludes to the story of Adam and Eve and how Adam was unable to control his desires and ate the forbidden fruit even though being told not to. Although I am not religious, biblical symbols and characters offer paradigms and archetypes to make sense of the human condition. Another comparison is that Adam had paradise and Bateman was wealthy and successful, but they both wanted more, which resulted in their downfall.

The symbolism of “6” also appears frequently. There are 6 containers, representing how man (and thus, sin) was created on the 6th day. These containers are stacked as stairs, representing both the steps to creation and the descent of man into sin. There are also 66 pages in the journal I created, 6 containers and 18 chairs, all multiples of this corruptive number.

 

Diptych

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Size: 38.1 x 50.8cm

Media: Digital Photograph

Independent Project

Existentialist philosophies prompted this introspective self-portrait series regarding place and value. For a long time, I’ve struggled to define my purpose in life. It can be overwhelming to imagine the grand scale of the cosmos, but equally as tough to face the truth that you are but a negligible fraction of the matter that forms the planets and stars, something that weighed heavily on my conscience. It was only until I broke free from this objective search for meaning that I began to live life on my own accord, feeling as though I was completely weightless.

 

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