Artist in Residence: Cory Oberndorfer [May 8-26, 2010]

Exhibit dates: May 26 – July 10, 2010

In May 2010, Redux presented the exhibition Novelty by artist in residence Cory Oberndorfer, in conjunction with the the Piccolo Spoleto Festival. Oberndorfer created paintings in the gallery space as well as on the façade of the Redux facility during a three-week residency from May 8 – May 26. The exhibition opened with a skating parade and reception on May 26.

Inspired by graphic design, Oberndorfer transformed roller derby skaters into icons which conveyed both the idea of idolization and a sense of product identity. In a palette of bright colors, the artist drew inspiration from three of his favorite things, “sweets, pop culture and bad-ass women, although not necessarily in that order.” This combination brought a playful sense of innocence to these athletes who play an aggressive, full-contact sport. Acknowledging the nostalgic return of the all-female sport, Oberndorfer utilized timeless imagery like old-fashioned candies that had been re-contextualized by a new generation.  His unique style is developed through his use of  half-tone values, sunburst patterns, and retro color palettes often seen in propaganda posters.

Statement by Cory Oberndorfer

“I was raised in suburban Middle America and learned about life through movies, television, magazines and photographs. I was soft-spoken in public, diligent in my studies and always smiled when my picture was being taken. Our lawn was always manicured, my father was a Scoutmaster and my mother ran the PTA. Along with my brother and sister, I led a very pleasant existence and was never left wanting.

But every once in a while I wondered what it would be like if I stepped outside the boundaries. It must be more fun to live the adventures I witnessed in the movies, rather than my predictable Christmas-card lifestyle. My heroes were Luke Skywalker, Rocky, Indiana Jones and Tony the Tiger. These were people driven to do things beyond their limits.

What does it take to jumpstart somebody’s day or inspire them to do more and be more? Film and television taught me that good people were well-behaved, but great people questioned propriety. My heroes were those strong enough to fight for what they wanted and never settled for less. Idols and Icons are not known for their sweet and pleasant exterior, but for the strength, confidence and conviction that lies beneath.

My work reflects the simple graphic imagery we are bombarded with every day. The colors and patterns are designed to triggers nostalgic memories of childhood treats, offset by the fiercely independent females represented. I create a recognizable brand that exists in many forms to coincide with the strategies of a mass marketing campaign; business cards(gift cards), postcards(mailings), small collages(magazines), canvas paintings(posters) and murals(billboards).

In this campaign, roller derby girls play the role of warriors battling the numbing ritual and acceptance of our cultural ennui. American society has been broken down into marketable demographics, but we all have the ability to question our place and occasionally raise an eyebrow.”

Read more about the exhibition in this article by the Charleston City Paper!