“Ode to a Famous Artist” – an exhibition by Westover School alumna Abigail Pope that is intended to explore “the cult of self in present day society” with a mocking sense of humor – will be on display in Westover’s Schumacher Gallery from January 16th through February 10th.
Based in New York City, Ms. Pope is an artist who combines performance and photography, creating self-portraits with a sense of humor. After years as a commercial photographer, she transitioned into solely art about four years ago. “Art is much more about exposing one’s inner self,” she said. With the advent of Facebook and blogging, she started using social media as a tool for expression, and thus, has mostly all of her work online. After graduating from Westover in 1993, Ms. Pope received a B.A. in French from Boston University.
In her artist’s statement, Ms. Pope said, “This series is a mockery of the ‘me’ syndrome in our society and the egocentric way we are brainwashed to think. A photograph of yourself, even if candid, can be used as an act of promotion – commercial or personal. We ‘like’ certain products on Facebook to give us the edge or status we want to represent. We are constantly bombarded with media funhouse imagery, distortion, persuasion, and unattainable images of perfection. Girls, especially, are overwhelmed with black swan/white swan imagery – either the sexy kitten or the perfect virgin. I have always found this interesting and frustrating at the same time, and thus researched a bit more on propaganda, discovering Edward Bernays and the psychology behind images.”
The resulting collection of images, Ms. Pope said, “is a way for me to express my feelings about society, interpret what I see in popular culture, as well as share my inner world. I love fashion, art, film, dance, music, and culture, but I can also dissect images and see how they could make a person feel. Therefore, it was a conscious choice to shoot these images in an off-kilter way – crooked, grainy, or awkward. Imperfection gives more room for freedom and perhaps releases some of the pressures of being a certain way in our high-gloss advertising society.”
The Schumacher Gallery is open Mondays through Fridays from noon until 5 pm and Saturdays from 1 to 5 pm; it is closed on Sundays. The Schumacher Gallery is located on South Street in Middlebury. Visitors must access the gallery at the main entrance of the School.
Westover is a selective boarding and day school with 205 students from 16 states and 17 countries. The School offers its students more than 20 Advanced Placement courses as well as signature programs in science, engineering, art history, and music.