Some readers of this blog may be familiar with the exhibition I have hanging at 100 E Pratt Street. Cara Ober generously offered me space here to give some details of the exhibition and my intentions behind this body of work.
This was a project in which I adopted a business model from the world of fashion, that of making “designer replicas”, to see how (or if) that could translate to the business of art making within our local community. Drawing parallels to this model, I painted “in the style of” Baltimore artist Cara Ober, using economical materials (acrylic wash on paper rather than paint on canvas). I signed my name to the paintings and included it on the email and postcard announcement, as I was not interested in making forgeries or counterfeits. None of the paintings were direct copies of specific works. The images and text were appropriated from various sources, some of which included free online clip-art, the dictionary, gardening magazines and an antique book on phrenology.
From what I’ve heard, people want to know why I chose Cara Ober’s work as my point of departure for this project. First of all, it was somewhat of an arbitrary decision; I could have worked in the style of any number of artists. Cara is someone I don’t know, so I had no personal connection and could be dispassionate about the work. Additionally, she and her paintings have a strong presence within the local art scene- analogous to a sort of “brand” identity. Finally, it was important to me that I appropriated from someone whose work was already based in appropriation. I really had no personal agenda to do any harm to Cara.
In making an analogy to the business of fashion and branding, I am not arguing that this is the correct or ethical model for an artist’s studio practice. But I do think that it points to many issues and problems relevant to art-making and it’s relationship to market forces, including those of intellectual property, authorship, appropriation, and the legality or illegality of making a picture.
- Christine Bailey