Since the beginning of humankind, men and women have marveled at the vastness of the universe. With its unspeakable beauty and incomprehensible mystery has come a desire to know and understand it, though its enormity and complexity will forever boggle the mind.
Like the physical universe in which we live—immeasurable, mysterious, unfathomable—so too is the personal universe each of us inhabits and like the physical realm, we have an innate longing to understand it. In their 2 man exhibition, FADED BY THE SUN, Hampton Boyer and John Vitale ponder the concepts of individual consciousness and existence, more specifically, their own and the largeness of it. According to the artists, one can never fully comprehend his/her own existence given that we are only able to interpret certain facets of it. Vitale explains, just as “the sun supports life for us, we can only experience local aspects of it”—heat, light, rising, setting—“complex tools can tell us more, but our experience of it is just an infinitesimal sliver of its reality.”
If we accept that our impressions of events and our understanding of them are just slivers of reality, then that which we perceive to be real or true is not absolute, but merely a reflection of one’s current state of awareness. Boyer’s paintings and Vitale’s collages smartly suggest that perhaps we should employ a sense of wonder to an onslaught of sensation as the only wise state of consciousness.
As a source of inspiration and a vehicle for filtering ideas, Boyer and Vitale turned to National Geographic Magazine—described by the artists as, “a container with pre-internet knowingness”—each selecting magazines from the year of his respective birth. From its inception (first published in 1888), Nat Geo has evoked in its readers a sense of wonder and discovery, its breath-taking photography capturing distant corners of the earth. Illustrational in style, Boyer’s compositions hint at imagery found in the magazine, albeit with a bit of humor and a pop-culture twist. His vibrantly hued paintings float on bright yellow walls, evoking the warmth and light of the sun as well as giving nod to the yellow border of the magazine’s iconic cover. Boyer shares, “The sun holds value when it comes to my work. It is parallel to the feeling of comfort, the saturation of color, the blessing to be able to see something for what it is, and to figure it out in real time.” For Vitale, the magazine itself becomes medium as well as representation of the ineffable nature of existence as each work’s layered composition emerges from the pages of a single issue of a bound magazine. Vitale notes that there is an element of time in the numbered pages—each creation progressing from front to back, “individuals dissolving into environments while seeming to play with the ideas of experience and attachment” all the while moving forward in a state of wonderment.
Hampton Boyer is a Hampton Roads based artist whose works have been exhibited in numerous group and solo exhibitions. Self-taught and extremely determined, Boyer’s recognition as an artist is a result of hard work as well as an enthusiastic and creative nature. His artistic endeavors manifest in illustrational style graphics, vibrant paintings and youthful murals. In 2014, Boyer and long-time friend Asa Jackson cofounded 670 Gallery in Hampton, VA. As the gallery’s creative director, Boyer developed a strong awareness of the value of the visual arts to a community. In addition to his gallery experience, Boyer has instructed graphic design courses at Hampton University as well as working with the Contemporary Arts Network to bring creative cultural events to the public sphere. Since closing 670 Gallery, Boyer’s focus has been his artistic practice as well as honing his curatorial skills with Thank You Gallery, located in Norfolk, Virginia.
John Vitale is a Minneapolis, MN based visual artist. His work has been exhibited in New York, Miami, Chicago, Brooklyn, Portland, Minneapolis, Baltimore, Romania, and Scotland. A graduate of Parson’s School of Design, Vitale has worked as a published and exhibited photographer, a three dimensional designer directing creative projects for Louis Vuitton, Tommy Hilfiger, and Stella McCartney as well as received funding from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council to publish zines. After briefly curating pop-up events for VA MOCA, he founded Nobile & Amundsen Gallery in an endeavor to help stimulate a creative economy in his hometown of Virginia Beach/Norfolk, VA. He has been a practicing Vipassana meditator for over a decade and currently works as an EMT on an ambulance; both influences promote a sense of humor in his work.
popblossom is a distinctive framework for exhibition-making that is fluid, collaborative and relevant for our times. Under the direction of former gallery owner, Lorrie Saunders, popblossom explores exhibition as a medium for artistic expression as well as a platform for experimentation and challenging convention.
Work Program Architects was founded by Mel Price and Thom White. Located in the historic Monticello Arcade in Downtown Norfolk, WPA has an open studio environment that encourages collaboration between staff, consultants, clients, and the community. WPA is focused on educational and municipal work, civic landmarks, places of business, and any place where people gather.
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