Meet Your Maker includes works from five artists: Todd James, Joyce Pensato, Sue Williams, Devin Troy Strother, and Sylvia Jeffriess. The selected works combine an enthusiasm for pop culture with a sophisticated study of modern painting. The show highlights the graphic nature of the artists' styles and similar character-based subject matter. It is an exploration of their shared comic-book references and aesthetic achieved through the simultaneous use of a whimsical innocence thrown off by an injection of vulgarity.
Yet through each of the artists' varying implementation of color and refinement of the line or lack thereof, they set themselves apart stylistically. Todd James utilizes bold blocks of color to fill every inch of his deliberately simple compositions, while Joyce Pensato's restraint to black and white draws attention to her dripping, freeform line and emphasizes the mark making and expressive quality of her works. Pensato's singularly figurative style of "Cartoon Noir" is a bridge between Sue Williams' and Devin Troy Strother's cartoonish abstractions and James' more literally depicted fantasy scenes. Strother calls attention to the flatness and sharpness of comic animation with his outlined and pared down silhouettes of figures and is in stark contrast to Williams' feverish aggressive doodling. Sylvia Jeffriess harnesses the energy that Williams applies to her work and creates dense graphic narratives with an explosive visual language.
Each artist, too, has a different goal. While Williams' confronts gender politics (and more recently international politics in general), Strother references racial stereotypes and the African American experience, James focuses on the transgressive imagery in our urban culture, and Pensato uses familiar cultural references like Batman and Homer Simpson to speak to notions of beauty, race, and ethnicity.
They are poets in their flatness, their lines, and their colors; but what makes their work so fun and enticing is that while their concepts are put together like beautiful sonnets, they have a unique appealing grit that makes them appear more like raps.