In Brandon Scott’s piece Decibels, Scott explores the relationship between identity and consumption. In today’s world, fashion brands and labels can truly make or break how others view you and your status. Decibels addresses this head-on by covering the female form in high-fashion Louis Vuitton’s familiar label. This not only represents wealth and status, but the suggestive body language of the woman shows how expensive taste often feeds into the view of femininity and empowerment. As the designer label completely covers the woman’s body, and her face is obscured, it showcases how the image of status and consumption can overshadow a person’s inner self and become their entire identity. The clothing leaves little to the imagination, but as she starts stripping off her top, it is her further exposing her outward identity of high-fashion consumption and status in bare view. Ultimately, material goods can take over our outward view entirely
“Resignation, not mystic, not detached, but resignation, open-eyed, conscious, and informed by love, is the only one of our feelings for which it’s impossible to become a sham.” - Joseph Conrad.
Artist Steven Curtis’ piece Resignation is the ultimate representation of how letting go can either make us sink or swim. Your attention will naturally be focused on the woman in the center of the work, which shows her leaning back with her eyes closed, appearing completely at peace. The concept of resigning can refer to a number of different things: a (horrible) job, stepping away from a relationship, or simply letting something from the past go. While resignations can be a scary decision to make, there is a feeling of ultimate serenity and peace. It is up to the audience’s imagination to assume what this woman has resigned from, but her facial expression clearly shows calmness for perhaps the first time.
While the woman is clearly the main focal point, it's important to also take note of the water surrounding her. Water can be chaotic, but in this case, it's completely calm, and unmoving. Not only does this represent a sense of tranquility in a way, but also coming to the realization that just enjoying the place where you are in the moment can be the most serene. Or, perhaps she’s just a Pisces. For many, like myself, water is a naturally calming element which adapts with each environment it’s in. This is something that’s necessary when resigning from a situation. By stepping away from a part of your life, you must adapt to a new environment and be mutable to changes. In a sense, this woman has to be just like the water that surrounds her.
One other element which is showcased through the oil paints is the color of the water and environment. The water closely surrounding the woman is a lighter color, and as it goes further into the canvas it gets darker. On a surface level, this may just simply represent the water getting deeper, but try to look at it in a different way through the concept of resignation. Once letting go or walking away from something, there’s an initial feeling of euphoria, excitement, and hopefulness. This represents the lighter colors surrounding the woman. However, when these initial feelings of adrenaline start to pass, that’s where doubt and fear start coming into play. As the water starts to darken, it symbolizes uncertainty and possible difficult times ahead. However, as the woman’s eyes are closed, she’s not acknowledging the uncertain future and instead focusing on her feelings of contentment.
Curtis brings this imagery to life through his work with oil paints on a walnut wood panel. This isn’t Curtis’ first time exploring the concept of water within his work, but Resignation is unlike previous works as the focus is on relaxation and the woman floating in the water. He explains that his main purpose was to show the power of a meditative mindset, which is shown through his use of cool oil colors including blues, greens, whites, and touches of brown. Not only are these tones soothing to the viewer, but the woman’s calm and relaxed facial expression perfectly transports us to a place where we are living in the moment.
On the surface, Resignation may just simply look like a woman having an enjoyable time in the water. However, once fully studying this piece, you’ll take note of the small details which send a bigger message — resigning can be a mixture of peace but uncertainty