Art, travel and creative fun! Serena was a guest on Angie Bowie's Radio Show! Creative sparks were flying!

Angie Bowie. Photo credit: Sergio Kardenas. Photo courtesy Angie Bowie & Sergio Kardenas

Chicago curator Sergio Gomez interviews Serena on the Art NXT Level podcast:

Art NXT Level

Taking on World Issues: Part 1 - Day 131

American Flag #3, The BP Crisis by Kyle Van Heck

"American Flag #3, The BP Crisis" by Kyle Van Heck

Artists often use their art as a way of sharing critical thoughts on national and world issues. Some artists present these issues in a stark, “in-you-face” kind of way, while other artists prefer a more subtle approach. In our society, we are bombarded by the sensationalism of negative news stories that often resort to “shocking” their audience for higher ratings or increased newspaper sales. So how can artists effectively present their views on these issues in a way that captures the attention of viewers who are already overwhelmed with “bad news”?

The next two artists I am featuring have each found creative and individually unique ways to use their art as a forum for discussion on national and international issues of concern.

Eat Your Words by Kyle Van Heck

"Eat Your Words" by Kyle Van Heck

The first artist is Kyle Van Heck from Chicago, Illinois who transforms his concerns on current issues into works of art that provide commentary on pop culture, politics and problems facing our society. Using oil, acrylic, permanent marker, spray paint and newspaper as well as other found materials, Van Heck creates collage work that is bold, graphic and hard-hitting.

What influenced you to create your current collage series?

Van Heck:
“I started making collages when I was a teenager, covering my entire bedroom wall with cut-outs from magazines I thought were cool or interesting. When I had to tear them all down to repaint my room, I wished I had been able to preserve them.”

“A few years later, I began creating collages on canvases and panels, throwing together random images. Then one day, I decided to create a flag collage out of newspaper clippings on all the negative things about our country I’d find in the news, day in and day out, and then I’d put them back in front of people’s eyes in the form of artwork. Although the words and images from these newspapers have already been seen by the majority of people,  most of them, in my mind, never notice how negative the news is or how awful our country could be at times. This flag idea came out so well, it has become an ongoing series. ‘American Flag #3′ (pictured above) focuses on the BP oil spill, while other flags tell the story of the debt crisis. or take a look at our country as a whole from the 9/11 attacks through the current financial situation.

Did you want to make a difference…..perhaps inspire viewers instigate positive change…..or is your artwork mostly a way for you to express the frustration many of us feel with national and international problems?

Van Heck:
“In the beginning, I did want to say something about our country and the world we live in, and that message has carried on though almost all of my work to date. If a piece inspires someone to go try and make a change, that’s fantastic. But for the most part, my artwork simply allows me to vent about issues that I see in our culture.”

Do you think there’s any hope for our society?

Van Heck:
“I do have hope for our society.  However, I think that before things get any better, they are going to become much worse…..”

“Our world has become overrun with images and information, all of it passing before our eyes which can only absorb the smallest fraction of data, process it, and delete it in order to make room for something else. However, within the overflow of information that we have created and which we now live, there is ample opportunity for education, transformation and realization. In reality, things are never as they seem, nor as we intended them to be.”

Kyle Van Heck’s work makes us stand up and take notice, shaking us out of the stupor of media overkill by taking precise aim at national and international issues that affect us all.

Tomorrow, I will present a second artist who uses a different approach to presenting her commentary on the social and political issues of our times.

- SerenaK


For those of you who are new to Artful Vagabond, I have made a resolution to write a year-long series of daily posts: A 365-Day Tribute to Artists and the Creative Mind.

Here’s the story behind these daily “resolutions”:

A Juicy New Year’s Resolution


Artist Credits for the images included in this post:

Home of the Brave by Kyle Van Heck

"Home of the Brave" by Kyle Van Heck

Image featured above:
American Flag #3, The BP Crisis
Kyle Van Heck, Illinois
Newspaper collage on canvas

Second image featured:
Eat Your Words
Kyle Van Heck, Illinois
Collage, spray paint, oil paint

Image on the left:
Home of the Brave
Kyle Van Heck, Illinois
Newspaper collage

Kyle Van Heck’s artwork can be viewed at: Kyle Van Heck

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