This early post is as good as any to begin voicing the internal debate that I’ve mulled and contemplated for years-
Intellectualism in contemporary art vs. whimsy and flights of fancy in craft.
It’s really the debate between a can of spinach and a Dairy Queen Blizzard. It’s what the adult inside every college educated artist knows is good for them, and what their childhood self really wants.
The looming weight of the implications of postmodernism and the accelerated decline of the gallery scene’s cultural relevancy, has created an intellectual prison cell for fine art as a study, it’s a cell that has no escape, regardless of how much time today’s artists spend looking for loopholes. The result from time served is a jaded, existential ennui in the minds of the graduates (inmates) at the art-academies, which is expressed in a collective insecurity, masked by ever increasingly shallow, self-declared importance. Art for art’s sake just doesn’t cut it when you’re trying to affirm academic relevancy and justify the reasoning behind pursuing an MFA.
So let’s look at Forest Rogers through the hue of my asserted lens.
His statues and figurines are staggeringly delicate and beautiful. When “art” is defined as craft, his work is undeniable. He has a huge following and produces constant work. But what is the critical response to his creations?
Amid countless pages of Pintrest boards, I couldn’t find a single, thoughtful mention or analysis. What about Forest’s personal statements? There are none. A few technical tutorial mentions scattered here and there, and an “About the Artist” on his portfolio site, which features a photo of the man sitting in a goat pen and the name of the university he attended.
While I didn’t do a truly exhaustive investigation, and I’m sure there has to be SOME thoughtful mention of his work somewhere, the reason for this lack of exposition is pretty clear. It is dismissed as craft art, even by the creator himself.
I think that dismissal is indicative of the debate I struggle with. While some of Forest’s work devolves into commercial ren faire statuary and fairie girl fantasy cliché, even those sculptures make for amazing eye candy. But those pieces don’t nullify the fact that there are many sculptures in Forest’s portfolio that are truly compelling and evocative and worth contemplating.
Guys like Forest Rogers are practicing acts of pure imagination, and the results of these flights of fantasy are always going to vary, even while the quality is always outstanding. But even my distinctions of which of his pieces are “good” (the ones I posted for example) are based purely on my sense of aesthetics, which are based on my own elitism.
So, am I going to be the first to delve into a thoughtful critique of Forest Roger’s stunning works of ART? Nope. Why should I be the first? Besides, I’ve just spent an hour gorging on visual ice cream, I’ve got no room left for vegetables.