By Heather Newman
“Some of us will probably become famous. It will be an ironic fame fashioned largely by those who have never seen our work.”
Allan Kaprow, Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life
Welcome to Miss Amy, the newest installment of an art exhibition focusing on contemporary political figures:
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, confirmed October 2020, 52-48
Due to the pandemic and these uncertain times, participants should wear face masks and refrain from screaming.
1: Echo Chamber with Strobe Light & Multiple Voices
Enter the small, dark room where teacher comments on report cards from St. Catherine’s (elementary) flash on the ceiling. Words are recorded in surround-sound.
Miss Amy, you have mastered your craft, you will be rewarded on earth as it is in heaven. Miss Amy, go forth and multiply; the meek shall inherit the earth. Miss Amy, you have mastered Miss Amy you will be rewarded in heaven Miss Amy, go forth and multiply Miss Amy, inherit the earth.
2: Archive Room: Painting by Anonymous
Her eyes do not tell a story but her lips, thin and arrow straight, shoot right through the canvas. It appears that Miss Amy has mastered the art of non-expression. Her unbending posture contributes to an overall flat quality; observe that the body is not portrayed in any sort of abstract manner. This style is in direct contrast to contemporary art and especially the Neo-expressionists of the 70’s, the subject’s formative years.
3: Objects & Collectables
Note the important objects surrounding the subject (Miss Amy, Caucasian woman)
(A) Illuminated manuscripts: embossed with gold coin and silver filigree
(B) The Ceremonial Gavel: located on the far-right corner; made of a dark, heavy wood
(C) The Christ Child: fair infant swaddled in a blood-red blanket
The influence is Medieval Portraiture, where the goal is to present the subject not at a particular moment in time, but as the person wishes to be remembered. Objects represent Miss Amy’s religious conviction and political position.
4: Jury Summation
It is tempting to dismiss Miss Amy as an example of bad art; art that has nothing new to offer, nothing interesting to bring to the table, art that is unchallenging and stale.
But despite an unremarkable aesthetic, the strength of Miss Amy lies in its lack of transparency, its unknown futuristic quality.
5: Heads in a Rose Garden
Observe the long row of doll heads in the final room, hung on a rectangular grass panel, surrounded by 200 plastic roses in a synthetic flower bed. To the left stands a single, 10-foot-tall, pink-flowering crab apple.
This surreal doll and retro-toy collection, entitled Heads of Fate, is a nod to the various mindsets of Miss Amy. Red, white & blue wind-ups, pull-strings, spring toys and bobbleheads are pure mid-century.
It is important to note that Miss Amy, like most art commissioned by the civil government, courts, religious institutions and wealthy individuals, was created to communicate a message about the power of the patrons. Miss Amy was confirmed entirely by Patrons of her Art.
Pull the strings of these talking heads for a word from our sponsors:
“Squeeze me. I’m a technicality!”
“Separate-but-equal, wait for my sequel.”
“Pull my trigger, not my mask.”
“Don’t laugh. I am not a joke.”
PLEASE DISINFECT ON THE WAY OUT.
Heather Newman’s work has appeared in Barrow Street, Hanging Loose, Wisconsin Review, Love’s Executive Order, Hole in Head Review, Entropy Magazine, The Pi Review, Right Hand Pointing, The Inquisitive Eater, Matter, and more. Her poems have been anthologized in How To Love the World (Storey Publishing, 2021) and Voices from Here, II (Paulinskill Press). She has an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School.