Justine Neuberger

Oberlin College

When describing my work, I compare the material of paint to milk and butter. I use paint, a substance that conjures delicious imagery, to create caricatures of people I have encountered in dreams and daily life. I encourage viewers to indulge in my illusionistic and palatable imagery borrowed from advertising. My grotesque colors represent overindulgence and nausea. I juxtapose ancient and early Christian ideas about lust and gluttony, the celebration of excess during the pre-modern Carnival, and my experience as a consumer in the twenty-first century. Christian theology vilifies excess as a deadly sin, yet during Carnival the destruction of social and class restrictions were glorified.

As a post-modern American consumer, I have experienced similar phenomena and participated in gluttonous behaviors. My easy consumption comes at the expense of withholding means of livelihood from other people. Even painting is a luxurious indulgence. However, in the spirit of Carnival, painting ruptures social and class divisions. Only a few people can derive pleasure from eating a delicacy: it is consumed and then gone. When placed in a public space, many people can derive pleasure from looking at a painting. My work acknowledges the reluctant desire I feel as a witness and participant of consumer excess, yet it celebrates the indulgence of painting by anybody who desires to look.

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