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Pamela Michelle Johnson  Chicago, IL

* All images used with permission. Please do not distribute without first contacting the artist.

About Pamela Michelle

Teetering towers of hamburgers, drippy stacks of syrupy waffles, sticky piles of sugary candy… Junk food. It’s the taste of America. It is what we eat. It is who we are. The insatiable American appetite is set on a path of consumption. Devouring to the point where we are left with nothing, nothing but the consequential garbage. Quintessentially American, junk food is not just part of our diet, it epitomizes our cultural ideals and social norms. Through my work, I strive to invoke reflection on a culture focused on mass-consumption and mass-production, where the negative aspects of overindulgence are often forgotten or ignored. The work questions a culture that equates fulfillment, pleasure and happiness with what we consume.

Whether it is gluttonous quantities of larger than life junk food or the solitary empty wrapper, abandoned soon after devouring was complete, the images are charged with social relevance. The work flaunts our culture back at us. It questions embracing a culture of complete and instant gratification while ignoring the consequences of our indulgences. The work questions many of our cultural ideals and social norms. These are the pictures of our insatiable appetites; they are the pictures of the consequences.

The heightened realism of these paintings serves to remind viewers that this is a mirror to our culture. Overbearing scale and gluttonous quantities, juxtaposed against foods that are both tempting and comforting, examine the conflict between enjoying the highly processed, artificially flavored bounty of American life and the progression to overindulgence and gluttonous excess. The work is both gross and enticing. Empty wrappers forgotten and abandoned in a world of nothingness, question the sustainability of our excesses. The use of intense lighting and deep shadows coupled with exaggerated scale and unique compositions updates the classical notion of still life painting and gives it a contemporary twist.

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10 of 18 reactions displayed

"These painting would sell perfectly in an athletic club who's members appreciate breaking free from glutinous, ready made, processed foods. They can look at these paintings and marvel at how much power these things have but without their surrounding advertisements they now seem week."

"I think this art is having an opposite affect than what the artist wanted. haha. I can't help but think, "Man, I want those syrupy pancakes... right now...""

"This work reminds me of Mary Pratt and Canadian Painter, who made food hyper real. this is a good exploration on comsumption and consumerism."

"Art as social commentary is not my favorite, by any means - and while the point of these compositions is obvious and striking, I prefer art that portrays the beauty in the ordinary (or even in the grotesque.) Like the first poster, I would be interested to see the artist take this down the road to other commentary."

"Can we say, "America Today"? Haha."

"amazing art. I think he was hungry"

"That is really good I actually thought it was a photograph. Awesome."

"Never have I seen so joyless and menacing a mound of poptarts in my life. As Mr. Reeder pointed out in a previous comment, I do admire Ms. Johnson's masterful use of scale. I particularly liked the untitled commission work in 2007. If art is a conversation, though, I feel that Ms. Johnson's point has been clearly and eloquently made and am left interested in what she might have to say on other topics."

"I'm afraid to say I couldn't leave that half of powdered donut lying there. My favorite!The burgers---ick. We are very gluttonous in this county and I hope this trend reverses itself."

"Wow, your art really puts the food we consume every day in a new (and rather unappealing) light. The voluptuousness of the hamburgers together with the sickening proportions really reminds me of the mixed emotions I have before eating an ordinary hamburger. Your paintings also remind me of Emily Eveleth's donut paintings..."

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