This year’s ‘Emerging Artists’ display debuts at the Macon Museum of Arts and Sciences


Image: Marianna Bacallao

The Emerging Artists display at the Macon Museum of Art and Sciences.

Marianna Bacallao, Staff Writer

The Macon Museum of Arts and Sciences unveiled its newest art exhibition Feb. 3, a collection of works aptly called “Emerging Artists.” It is the museum’s fifth showcase of its kind.

This new installment houses over 40 art pieces from seven artists across the southeastern United States. From paintings and sculptures, to mixed media and abstract art, this display sets out to show the true breadth of southern art.

There is a meld of different artistic and political statements. Jerry Smith’s paintings and mixed media installations, in particular, stand out against the white backdrop of the museum.

Smith’s mixed media art is made from recycled trash. There are the tiny faces of C-3PO and other beloved pop culture icons, all assembled in a mosaic of a bald man with thin-rimmed glasses. Resting on his forehead is a wooden sign with the vintage image of a woman telling someone, presumably her hypothetical children, “Eat your peas! There are children starving in Africa…”

Sharing the top corner with her is a rocking chair, a disembodied foot, a rooster, and the personal account of the artist’s descent into madness as he has a “nightly rodent bedtime story.” Below them is the message: Whether Vain.

It seems a hodge-podge of strange and disconcerting images, like the visual equivalent of two Cracker Barrel ads played on top of each other. It makes something unfamiliar out of the familiar.

It clearly has an anti-consumerist message with some relation to the humanitarian efforts in Ethiopia, but there are so many threads of it that don’t connect, the artist fails to make any strong point.

Smith’s painting is a different beast. In an interesting, Smith depicts Jesus as a white man, holding a rifle, and standing in a field, flanked by cows and oil rigs — a visual representation of a quote by former President Barack Obama, included with the work:

“It’s not surprising — then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations,” Obama said of the hard-pressed rural population when running for president in 2008.

“So it’s not surprising they get bitter, cling to guns or religion,” is how Smith chooses to shorten that quote. At the bottom of the painting he writes “CLING.”

Not everything in the exhibit carries such strong political sentiments, but Smith’s art pieces take up a lot of space, and a lot ideas.