On Thursday, Nov. 4, the McInich Art Gallery at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) unveiled its latest exhibit, “Soon I Will Be President,” courtesy of artist Joe Wardwell. The title is derived from a lyric out of The Dead Kennedy’s song “California Uber Alles.”
That evening, an Artist Talk event was held in Walker Auditorium at 5 p.m. Wardwell shared with the attendees what the exhibit represents as well as how he creates his artwork, from the conceptualization to execution.
Wardwell is an Associate Professor of Fine Arts at Brandeis University. When asked why she chose Wardwell’s work, director of McInich Art Gallery Deborah Disston said, “I’ve known Joe since he was a graduate student and he was getting his MFA in painting at Boston University. I followed his career for all that time for about 20 years and I’ve always admired his work as a young artist.”
She continued, “[Wardwell] is using his painting experience as a way to show this dynamic expression of two different voices…a voice of national pride and a voice of dissent, where is very reflective of our current politics.”
The exhibit contains oil paintings that each have a Hudson River Valley School inspired landscape with abstract expressionism text overlaid that depict lyrics from 80’s punk rock songs.
“All the text comes from 80’s punk rock band lyrics. Mostly, all the horizontal lines are from the Black Flags song called Gimme Gimme Gimme; it’s about capitalism and consumerist society, which I find a lot of 80’s punk rock angst seems really relevant to [the current state of America],” said Wardwell.
Wardwell explained the layout for the exhibit and said, “The way that [the paintings] are installed is supposed to give the effect of a wheat-pasted wall of posters.”
He continued, “By taking a venue like posters that people are familiar with from walking past a wall of wheat-pasted posters that serve as advertisements, and putting it in the language of contemporary art and these very precious objects of landscapes, then it kind of subverts what people see on an everyday level.”
Attendee and sophomore Michelle Murray said, “This exhibit was definitely different than anything I’ve seen in the McInich Art Gallery before because, usually, the art is straight-forward and easy to derive meaning from, but with these paintings, people have to look at the art for two to three minutes to fully digest what the artist is trying to say.”
The exhibit will be on display at the McInich Art Gallery in Robert Frost through Dec. 17. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Thursday, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m