Salazar - Crying

Channing Salazar
College of Fine Arts Studio Art (MFA)


My paintings are a convergence of various artistic influences and philosophical concepts, all centered on the exploration of ambiguity within visual language and our ability to render meaning from images. I aim to create paintings that explore the evolving nature of visual language over time and the beauty found within its situational conversions and distortions. This approach to art is intended to reveal the world, rather than mirror it. Visual distortion is applied in my work to examine the contemporary disruption of meaning. In my artistic process, I draw parallels between physiological distortions in the human eye, such as astigmatism, color-blindness, and myopia, and the distortions that occur in digital images, such as interlacing, color aberrations, and resolution.

Operating in a Baroque-inspired aesthetic, my process involves a theatrical presentation of distortion and montage. The process of distortion is an undercurrent throughout my work that manifests initially by the manipulation of digital images, and later through paint abstractions in large-scale oil paintings. The process of montage is a cinema-inspired technique that involves assembling and augmenting non sequitur images until they reach a surreal emotional space between representation and abstraction. The image is then taken out of the digital realm and brought forth into a physical oil painting. This conversion from digital to analog is critical to my work, as it once again reflects a translation of language and the surreal quality of the various misinterpretations that occur. I see my work as both a rebellion and reconciliation. It is a conflicted exhortation for the chaotic and vitalic beauty that resides within us all. In the brushstrokes, colors, and layers of my work, I invite the viewer to embark on their own surreal journey with the haunted past, to explore the untamed territories of their imagination, and to revel in the chaos of meaning.

Artwork Description:

My intention here was to compose and paint a digital image built by Photoshop and AI generated figures given historical painting prompts. The use of AI images is meant to serve as a dialogue with foundational painting questions regarding the nature of representation. In this work, I seek to display the dilemma of misinterpreting the meaning of historical images. By alluding to subject matter that is both familiar and obscured, I aim to provoke contemplation regarding cultural tendencies to draw inspiration from bygone cultural epochs. This recurring pattern, which can be described as a "haunting," perpetuates the influence of these images due to their once-profound formulas for aesthetic perfection and visual emotional tropes. It is my intention to delve into processes that embrace these haunting images of our past, and in doing so, shedding light on their enduring impact in our present day. The polysemous word “crying” is used in the title to further extrapolate the dilemma of trying to render meaning from images. For example, the figures may be crying out of joy or sorrow. By using this title, I invite the viewer to render their own meaning of the image.