Once in a while, a work of art comes along involving suburbia that is not cringe-inducing.
Jenny Burton is an artist that deserves an outsized response from her audience.
Beginning with this Friday’s reception at the USF Centre Gallery and continuing through April 16, the public has a chance to register appreciation for a truly fantastic mixed media installation.
Titled Enchanted Suburbia, the exhibit conveys Burton’s conceptions of one of youth’s thorniest periods.
“The end of one’s senior year in high school is a very awkward time,” Burton said in her artist’s statement. “You are somewhere between adult and child.”
Consisting of an oversized cupcake, hanging clouds, wallpaper, chair railing and manipulated yearbook photos, Suburbia displays a cogent and formidable aesthetic sensibility.
The result of that sensibility, though tucked away inside the Phyllis P. Marshall Center, deserves attention – warranted by artist’s insight — that is a byproduct of feelings that would be shared by the audience.
Burton’s statement ties the yearbook pictures to that commonality.
“I wanted to use the format of the portrait because this type of photograph is used to identify and attempts to capture one’s true self,” Burton said. “However, what I found after looking at thousands of senior portraits is [that it] does just the opposite. These pictures, in a sense, subtract information about the subject rather than add.”
Subjective analysis is not a stretch for an individual who grew up in the consumerist swirl of Orlando.
“It sometimes feels like I’m inside of a ride,” Burton said about growing up in the shadows of Disney World, “I reference the superficiality.”
After a stint at Southeastern College in Lakeland, Burton enrolled in USF’s arts program.
“USF has been a success for me,” Burton said.
Due to graduate in the fall of 2004, she plans to push further, toward a Master of Fine Arts degree.
Her self-awareness could be labeled as symptomatic of a charmed existence, but there is much thought behind the “charm.”
There is the symbolic cupcake at her installation.
“Made for birthday parties, class parties and holiday celebrations these small objects attempt to bring joy to their recipient,” Burton said. “They are supposed to make you feel better, happy even. However, this happiness only lasts for a short time and you are left in the same place you were before the cupcake.”