This series of paintings is rooted in a distinctly American cultural tradition, harnessing the vernacular of seduction and persuasion prevalent in branding, advertising, and popular culture. The visual cues of artifice and ornamentation are metaphors for the human propensity to cover, repress, and ignore difficult emotions.
Critical of the duplicity we both create for ourselves, and absorb from the powers-that-be of Capitalist ideology, these works simulate the way our cultural belief systems inform our desperate struggle to mask chaotic tensions just beneath the surface. These works appropriate the ubiquity of false realities, blurring truth and fiction through the representation of symbols as decorative veils. These thin façades become crucial foundations of our contemporary existence, as we cling to utopian representations in a world filled with uncertainty.
In an unpredictable political climate, with expert forecasts of a drastically-near end for humankind on earth, this series attempts to distill powerful sentiments that are difficult to capture through written language. Through color and form, these works place these delicate constructions and mythologies of romantic idealization at the forefront of our awareness.
I believe that the power of painting lies in its ability to translate the true depths of the nature of our humanity. These paintings identify the discrepancies between our intentions and actions in a culture fed by fantasy, and the pursuit of future pleasure at all costs, despite imminent warning signs. It is the very nature of our flaws and will to survive that blind us to our downfall—yet give us the ability to see the beauty in almost anything.
Emily Burns (b. Warrenton, VA) is an artist, designer, and curator. She received her BFA in Drawing and Painting from The Pennsylvania State University in University Park, PA in 2008. Her work has been exhibited both internationally and throughout the United States. Some of her recent exhibitions include solo shows at Adventureland Gallery in Chicago, and the John Sloan Arts Center, at Lock Haven University. Her work was included in a recent three-person exhibition at 111 Minna Gallery in San Francisco, and recent group exhibitions at The Lodge Gallery and John Molloy Gallery in New York City, Trestle Gallery, Lorimoto Gallery, and Tiger Strikes Asteroid in Brooklyn, 24 Hour Charlie’s in Los Angeles, and Galleri Urbane in Dallas. Her work has been featured in media such as Beautiful Decay, Hi-Fructose, and Juxtapoz. She has attended residencies at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA and Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, VT. She recently curated the group exhibition Deal With It at Woskob Family Gallery in State College, PA and curated the group exhibitions Kitsch at studio e gallery, and Take 2 at The Alice gallery in Seattle. She is the designer and editor of the contemporary art publication Maake Magazine. She holds an MFA from The Pennsylvania State University. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Art & Design at Lock Haven University, in Lock Haven, PA and full-time Visiting Faculty at the Pennsylvania State University.
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