Stop Telling Everyone How Pretty They Are and Everyone Is Not Having More Sex Than You are the first two pieces in a new series that references and undermines certain visual and thematic trends of today. They are allusions to —but not mimics of— a pervasive social media format of a “pretty” photo paired with an “inspirational” quote. Unlike these memes that saturate Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, however, Stop and Everyone contain unexpected messages in their text.
stop telling everyone how pretty they are : #yoursolutionisaproblem
Some make a habit of telling others how good they look as a well-intentioned attempt to boost self-confidence; however, this further ingrains the connection of physical appearance and self worth. Moreover, hyperbolic compliments are now so common they are expected, even obligatory, and so give rise to a new layer of anxiety if one does not receive enough praising comments. “Why hasn’t anyone told me I’m stunning or gorgeous!?” *refresh*
stop telling everyone how pretty they are : #newgrammar
#newgrammar is a literal reference to the increasing use of “they” as a singular pronoun in place of “he” or “she.” This new use has proliferated on the internet and is now accepted by many as a correct, non-gendered singular pronoun. More importantly, though, #newgrammar is a call for people to develop a new infrastructure (grammar) of relating to and uplifting one another—one that does not hinge on physical appearance.
everyone is not having more sex than you
This piece is not a call to action like Stop but rather a reassuring voice of reason. The glistening image of the beach at sunset calls to mind idealized notions of romance and sex. The text, however, undercuts this association and subverts the incessant message from commercial media that everyone, absolutely everyone, is having a lot of exciting sex all the time; and if you’re not, you aren’t living right, are missing out, and are decidedly a loser.
These works feature original photos by Michael McVey (used with express permission), which have not been digitally enhanced in any way. The photos were carefully selected not only to appropriately match each piece’s message, but also because they function aesthetically and formally on their own: undeniably lovely, with engaging compositions, and certainly part of art history’s long tradition of landscapes. This grounds the work. Although conceptually addressing today’s society and technology-based communications —which are slip-shod, flippant, and based in irony—Stop and Everyone are carefully crafted and earnest.
Finally, I hope these pieces remind viewers to get off the internet, out of their heads, out of doors, and to simply enjoy existence.