A new exhibition of work by third-year students in the BFA Illustration and Cartooning Department rounds up some the most compelling characters in recent memory, both real and fictional, to ask, “What makes someone a monster in the eyes of society?” From Oscar Wilde‘s youth-obsessed protagonist Dorian Gray and the late Korean leader Kim Jong-Il to ballerina Nina Sayers, the protagonist of Darren Aronofsky‘s Oscar-winning film The Black Swan, “Man-Made Monsters” includes portraits in various media by more than 80 artists who took their inspiration from literary masterpieces and other cultural touchstones.
Adding interest to the wide array of source material, the exhibition presents certain characters, like Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde, in various forms, and in some cases, like the American scientists who worked on the atomic bomb under the U.S. government’s Trinity Project, the “monster” in question isn’t a person at all. Thanks to the illuminating artists’ statements, rather than a gallery of villains, the installation is a reminder that every artist’s subject is a “man-made monster” and that all societies have their monsters. “Those who commit the unspeakable crimes allow us to learn what it is to be human, imperfect, and fallible,” says current BFA Illustration and Cartooning student Melody Newcomb, whose portraits depict women who kill their children.
“Man-Made Monsters” is on view at the Visual Arts Gallery, 601 West 26 Street, 15th floor, through Saturday, April 21. There’s a public reception on Wednesday, April 11, 6 – 8pm.
Photos: Jessica Hale/Visual Arts Gallery on Flickr