Two Portraits of the Late-Stage Republic

By Michael Jezewak

Honorable Mention, Visual (2D), Create | Encounter 2021



Artist Statement:

American decadence takes many forms, only two of which are symbolized in “Two Portraits of the Late-Stage Republic.” Addressing the many prongs of American decadence, though, requires overcoming the forces of tribalism and negative partisanship that cloud Americans’ political and moral considerations, and those forces are only exacerbated by the micro-targeted precision of social media algorithms. Thus, simultaneously confronting these two pieces, “Crucifixion by White Ethnonationalism (January 6, 2021)” and “American Herod,” is intended to provoke self-critical conversations within each of the two dominant political coalitions and among the one body politic in the world’s oldest democracy in existence. Worth noting are two inspirations for the piece(s): Flannery O’Connor, the great 20th-century American writer who defended her Southern Gothic style by explaining that for “the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind you draw large and startling figures,” and Martha Rosler’s anti-Vietnam War series “House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home.”

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