My 8 year old daughter, Alice, loves gymnastics and all things about moving and stretching her body. I brought her to our local prairie preserve and captured her at sunset practicing her youthful and inspired yoga movements. What I like most is the calm, spiritual nature of the work. “Alice, Yoga” prints of 3 sizes can be viewed and purchased at http://christophershoup.zenfolio.com/p138339725.
This is essentially an action painting – I drafted directly onto the board from November, 2013 through January, 2014. It’s graphite pencil with a background of blended color pencils and the first work in the series ‘Animals Contemplate Climate Change.’ Upon close inspection, one sees the artist at work. Mounted on Masonite. Hand-framed in walnut. I’m showing it during a pop-up art show sponsored by Paper Street Gallery on Saturday, January 18, in the city of Kankakee, Illinois.
I’m working with pencils; I’m at the foothills of the mountains I’m eventually going to climb; my ultimate goal is to draw with pencils as good as the ‘old world masters.’ I anticipate reaching that place in 2014.
This artwork is a stylized representation of a very abstract concept. As an artwork, it is large and ‘wall commanding’ and I consider it one pinnacle construction of a visual style I pursued throughout the previous decade of my life.
I’ve read a freakish amount of science in the past two years.
‘Slaves to electrons’ is a statement about what I’ve concluded is wrong with us.
We are slaves to electrons.
Following the studies of Franklin and deluge of late 19th century innovations in the electrical sciences we learned to harness electrons and transmit them across long distances and at breakneck speeds to all the places we use them – basically everywhere.
What is an electron? It’s a tiny, negatively charged particle that we readily conceptualize as the negative sign. Electrons are born in the bowels of steam turbines and forced into an Conga line that snakes through a myriad of wires and stations and travels up a cord directly into my digital alarm clock, where some excite the materials in a resistor wire and are converted to heat.
Electrons are the blood of our electrical circulatory systems and they must be continually generated or else the grids die. The second the turbines stop, the electrons disappear, the grid dies and everything running on electrons stops.
Electrons themselves aren’t problematic. In various ways we bring electrons into existence to be used to our advantage. Electrons power the laptop into which I type these thoughts.
What’s problematic is how we generate them.
Amongst other ways, we burn a lot of coal to generate electrons.
Coal burns hot, making it good for boiling water. We boil water to create steam. We pipe steam into rotors. Rotors spin turbine shafts. Inside the turbines spin magnets and copper coil. That generates electrons, which flow wholesale away from the plant through all the wires. Electrons run the motor that runs the cooling unit in the underused mall drinking fountain that hums and consumes electrons for mindless days on end without ever having a taker. Every day, every hour, every minute, every second – we waste super-natural sums of electrons in order to power things we are not using.
It’s problematic that we waste electrons when we generate them with coal.
Coal is made mostly of carbon – old atmospheric carbon that had gotten absorbed by ancient plants, trapped in their bodies and sunk deep into the earth two-hundred million years ago. In order to generate electrons we dig up those ancient carbon stores, burn them and free previously inert carbon atoms. A lone carbon atom is unstable. To obtain stability it links with two oxygen atoms. They become one molecule of CO2. Even after we know, mathematically, that through the burning of fossil fuels we create CO2, and that we’ve filled the atmosphere with more CO2 than it can naturally process, we continue to burn more coal and pump more CO2 skyward. Why? Because there’s still a lot of coal and coal generates inexpensive electrons and we are slaves to electrons.
During the few minutes you’ve been reading this, you’ve been consuming electrons or for sure electrons have been consumed nearby you. Everywhere around the globe we generate electrons to consume in our appliances, lights, coolers, homes, businesses, villages and cities. Each next day we ask that an ever-more gross amount of electrons are generated to maintain our incessant and growing demands. And now we require that astronomical amounts electrons be generated to support our vast digital storehouses of primarily hollow information. Our enslavement to electrons is literally killing us, killing other species, destroying habitats, and polluting the atmosphere to the point where the earth’s choked oceans and deforested soils cannot possibly be called upon to absorb any more CO2 than they can naturally absorb, and even as we know this, we refuse to quit generating an increasingly larger and larger amount of electrons. Why? Because we are slaves to electrons.
I wrote and deleted this final paragraph several times. It was my intention to finish with a helpful, hopeful tone, but I kicked over the podium and played some electric guitar and then returned to delete my preachy thoughts and typed this:
ON TEXT IN ART
“The background of ‘Slaves to electrons’ derives from a series of photographs I shot this past summer. During a recently library visit I discovered an inspiring retrospective on Ed Ruscha (roo-SHAY) and Ruscha’s work influenced the appearance of the text. Text on art is contemporarily important because we see text everywhere and our brains are satisfied by text in so many ways; when the right text appears in the right way, text is stimulating.”
Finally – do you want to get sand kicked in your eyes, or are you hip? Below is a link to where you can purchase, for a ridiculously reasonable price, a high quality print of this modern piece. This is the first print of mine ever where I sign it digitally – my digital signature will appear on your print, along with both glossy black bands on top and bottom. How innovative is all that? Get a 4 x6 inch print, buy a self-adhesive magnet and turn your print into refrigerator art. Or scale up and frame your own. Additionally, there’s a message in the text that goes beyond the art. PRINTS HERE: Slaves to electrons prints.
A Chicago Reader article that talks about a performance piece I completed a year ago. Being interviewed by a real reporter was an excellent experience. Having a chance to think aloud and ‘on the record’ about my intentions was beneficial. The article is also well-written. http://www.chicagoreader.com/Bleader/archives/2013/11/20/sort-of-almost-famous-how-chris-shoup-got-his-art-into-a-museum
I’m currently working with graphite pencils. Stylistically, I’m flip-flopping between classically rendered drawings with crisp lines, accurate shadows and realistic tendencies and artful drawings purposefully completed in rough and broad strokes. I’m going to build dramatic portfolios in both styles throughout the next ten years.
“He categorically did not know what to make of their puncture marks and pipelines” comes from the ongoing series ‘Animals contemplate climate change.’ Am I the only one who wonders that they think of contemporary matters?
I was asked to create a poster for my daughter’s school (Catholic, volunteers needed) for their upcoming annual ‘Dueling Pianos’ fundraiser.
“We always use clipart and we want something cooler like original art.” That was the gist of my instructions.
I mulled over a few ideas.
I sketched two pianos in cowboy hats standing atop a great expanse of the American southwest.
I sketched two pianos charging at one another like bulls, each sporting a fancy moustache.
I sketched two pianos standing on a stage, each waving his mono-fist at the other.
“And at a pivotal moment in the night, the pianos began to duel…” was rendered digitally (a first for me) and done in a style unlike my other work. I guess I was thinking about the event being classy then somehow envisioned an art style I’d seen in The New Yorker magazine. I like how an abrupt action has just taken place, and the art defines the moment before the next, greater action takes place.
* Early in the process I looked online for ‘dueling piano’ art so I could get an idea of what to do and found none; therefore I make this art available to anyone needing to make a dueling piano poster. Seriously. Let me fill that niche.