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Comic Release: Negotiating Identity
for a New Generation

Western Gallery (Western Washington University)
Bellingham WA Apr 5-May 28, 2004

Wayne Ngan - vase with lugs, fired in Sung Dynasty-style kiln
Inka Essenhigh, Getting Comfy (2002), oil on panel, [Western Gallery, Bellingham WA, Apr 5-May 28]

Bob Burdette - The Temptation
Bob Burdette, The Temptation, (2001),acrylic on canvas [Western Gallery, Bellingham, WA, Apr 5-May 28]

Now touring nationally, Comic Release: Negotiating Identity for a New Generation is a compelling exhibition of work by more than seventy-five artists. The show includes cartoons by established and internationally-known artists as well as emerging artists. It presents an unbiased overview of the genre, from exaggerated and animated styles of imagery and text to those expressing social and political concerns about violence, war, race, gender and sexuality.

Glen Baxter - The English have always adopted a relaxed attitude to sexual fulfillment
Glen Baxter, The English have always adopted a relaxed attitude to sexual fulfillment (1997), crayon & ink on paper [Western Gallery, Bellingham, WA, Apr 5-May 28]

Contemporary paintings and illustrations borrow cartoon imagery while traditional comic strip stories reach deeper into philosophical and contemporary realms of thought. The hybrid works include new genres of zines, graphic novels, animated videos, fashion and sculpture. They address important but often embarrassing social issues by associating them with the innocence of recognizable cartoon characters. The latter enter the psyche of most adults during childhood, a time when they are considered “real”. The embedded familiarity of the characters is an essential element of the dual impact of these works.

From humour and playfulness to disturbing satire, the stereotypical superheroes and Disney characters confront the darker side of human situations. Blurring the boundaries between high art and pop-culture, the works are skillfully executed and witty. For example, Philip Knoll’s nude illustration of Superman, entitled Real and Imagined, wears nothing but his red cape. They represent an important artistic genre and simultaneously relieve tensions in an unpredictable post-modern world.

www.westerngallery.wwu.edu/

Allyn Cantor

 Wed, Apr 7, 2004