After discovering each other on social media, artists Demtrius "6ixx" Similien and Sunday Morning joined forces to create political art based around relevant social issues like police brutality to reach those who might not care about politics.
"The Beautiful Lie," the installation produced by the two, is a continuation of 6ixx’s previous work "The Ugly Truth." According to Tapp's Arts Center's website, the two artists' unique combination of paintings and videos invites viewers to engage in uncomfortable conversations.
“A lot of the stuff I had done before, and [6ixx] kind of was able to breathe a new life in it by creating narratives and bridging the gap between the audience and the work," Sunday Morning said.
The entire basis of 6ixx’s first work was to encourage people to think about issues like immigration and masculinity in our society by using pop culture to stimulate those conversations. 6ixx describes his work as “propaganda collaging.”
“I can use a very happy scene in a very comedic movie, and I will give it the most emotionally-triggering value in my part of my little collaging of my videos, and now that happy scene becomes a very thought-provoking scene, and now you as a person who probably saw that movie are like 'whoa.' It makes you reflect, it forces you to," 6ixx said.
In "The Beautiful Lie," 6ixx pieces together clips from videos that people recognize alongside Sunday Morning’s paintings in the hopes that the audience will view the clip in a new way. They said their goal is to create something on a grand scale that is so direct, there's no way viewers could avoid looking at the familiar videos and images in a new light.
The exhibition explores how pop culture seen in movies and animated figures support social constructs and subconsciously play into the way society views certain issues. Their motive is to show audience members how the media they consume is much darker than they think.
Some sections of the exhibition included police brutality, immigration and the presence of American fast food restaurants in other countries. They used popular cartoon characters and contrasted them against these serious themes.
“People who don’t want to engage in these heavier, uncomfortable conversations, well they recognize Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and these things, and they’ll be like 'oh, that’s cool,'" Sunday Morning said. "So, through their subconscious value of having grown up with these characters, these characters having value to them, you can then translate that value to the subject."
6ixx said he feels a responsibility to bring up these difficult conversations for the people he believes are uninformed.
“How can I make the unaware, the unentertained, the unenthusiastic citizen, how do I get them involved? Because that’s where the power is — in those who don’t care. As long as they don’t care then we don’t change, the world doesn’t change if everybody’s apathetic about it, so I was just trying to make it as entertaining and as digestible as possible," 6ixx said.
The entrance of the gallery is filled with pops of color and videos of images on such a grand scale that it is difficult to avoid the intensity of their message. But, what makes the art come together is its ability to make the average person look at things they see everyday in a way that prompts an unpleasant, but necessary, conversation.
“I saw Sunday’s art and I was like yo, that’s more than just art. That’s propaganda, that’s information, that’s power, that’s symbols." 6ixx said. "I looked at it for more than just art, I looked at it for how it could spark something in somebody."
"The Beautiful Lie" is on display at Tapp's Arts center until March 1.