Act Like Nothing’s Wrong by Andrew Rozmiarek
Symbolic. Ironic. Gross. Funny. All these describe the cannibalistic artwork of Winston Smith. For the past 18 years, Smith has been creating collage art from the thousands of magazine images that fill his tiny San Francisco apartment.
Using Uhu gluesticks and an Olfa stainless steel razor blade, Smith harvests photographs from old magazines, combining them into works that target the “nothing’s wrong” attitude, as he calls it, prevalent in today’s media.
When Smith returned to the US after six years in Italy, two of them at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence, he was struck by the level of corporate control endured by most Americans. His work is an uncomfortable reminder that things are not as pleasant as they may seem.
Smith uses images from the mass media, twisting them into the Frankenstein children of Madison Avenue. In pieces like one in which a farmer unloads a pile of babies with a pitchfork (the caption reads,“Well, it’s a job, and a man’s gotta eat”), Smith challenges those who would never “knowingly” hurt anyone yet are willing to work in industries that create weapons of destruction.”
My work is on a scale that people can relate to,” he says. We may not see the government spending billions of tax dollars on “Batman planes that can’t shoot straight,” but we can’t ignore the message in Smith’s image of a hundred slaves toiling to pull a nuclear submarine up a rocky hill.
Icons of sex, money, and violence are everywhere in his art. “I work with what I have,” Smith says. “That’s what Time gave me.”