Museum of Historical Makeovers (2009-present)
Etchings, monotypes, drawings, sculpture, installation, audio tour
“The Museum of Historical Makeovers” series originated as a solo show at Swarm Gallery in Oakland, California in the fall of 2009. The exhibition featured three distinct areas of fictive historical artifacts and illustrations: etchings of beauty procedures, fake technical drawings of beauty treatments and products, and Egyptian style artifacts of a contemporary pop diva. As the “Museum” name implies, I created a pseudo-museum environment. Set in the future ( 3011 A.D.), the museum showcased “historical” artifacts while addressing current beauty and pop culture concepts. Educational labels, audio tour, and hieroglyphic learning guides enhanced the museum experience.
The etchings are based on master works depicting surgery, such as Thomas Eakins’ painting “The Gross Clinic” and Rembrandt’s “Anatomy Lesson.” I redrew the paintings using a digital drawing tablet so they appear as traditional etchings with aquatint. The scenes were altered to represent modern beauty procedures of hair removal and skin bleaching. In the museum label, the etchings are described as anonymous but attributed to a fictive German art studio, Atelier Wenceslas.
I created ink/watercolor drawings and monotypes in the style of technical illustrations found in Diderot’s eighteenth century Encylopédie, ou Dictionnaire Raisonné des Sciences, des Arts et des Métiers, an ambitious encyclopedia project published between 1751 and 1772 in France. While maintaining an antiquated appearance, my drawings illustrate modern beauty procedures such as Botox injection and lower back tattooing.
The Museum included mixed media works representing the burial artifacts from pop singer Gwen Stefani’s fictive Egyptian-style, mortuary temple. These faux artifacts play upon ideas of the deification of celebrities within pop culture and the media. As the museum labels explain, the Gwen Stefani was the ruler of the Pop Empire during a period known as the “Tragic Kingdom.” Burial artifacts include canopic jars (ceramic), burial coasters(sand-blasted alabaster) for her ethereal beverages in the afterlife, and a commemorative stone tablet (mixed media) which illustrates how the back-up dancer Angel joined the other Harajuku Girls in Stefani’s entourage.
The “Museum” work continues today in the form of animation, pop-star reliquaries, and Stefani mummy votive offerings.