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'1984': An Art Journal Entry

by Patience

Book Arts Art Gallery

Art: '1984': An Art Journal Entry by Artist Patience
I initiated a long-term project with my art students, whereby we made homemade, DIY art journals, and worked in them throughout the year.  I then embarked on a project to create a guest entry into each one of my students' journals.  For this particular student, who also participated in a literature class I lead, "1984" by George Orwell was a book we read aboutwhich he really seemed to enjoy our class discussions -- and so I created an entry for him inspired by the book.

Here we have the main protagonist, Winston Smith, on the right.  One the left we have Julia, political rebel and Winston's love interest.  Behind them is the icon known universally as 'Big Brother' within the repressive totalitarian society in which Winston and Julia live.  'Big Brother' is their dictatorial leader, all encompassing -- in fact one of the most prevalent party slogans that is constantly jammed down their throats is that "Big Brother is watching YOU....".  Nice, eh?

Despite his deep doubts and rebellious nature, Winston Smith has spent his adult life passing as a cooperative and committed governmental Party member.  His life depends on his convincingly pretending to be just another non-thinking cog in the wheel of the bleak and soul-crushing society into which he was born.   He has noticed a young woman around and about, the beautiful Julia.  Attracted to her physically, he is none-the-less utterly disgusted by her apparent complete and total commitment to the Party. Even worse, he begins to fear her, when, thinking she may be spy and following him, he plots upon how he might kill her in order to save himself.  That is before he learns  the surprising truth....that despite all outward appearances, he and Julia are actually of like mind, with her act of pure orthodoxy to Party doctrine only a ruse meant to deflect suspicion of a rebellious streak just as deep as his own.   Winston and Julia embark on a near impossible and certainly doomed romance, pledging their love for one another as they, in supreme secrecy, try to navigate  the dangers that the discovery of such an illicit affair would surely bring upon themselves.  Even a stolen glance at each other could be noticed, and duly noted....

'Big Brother' appears here upon what's known in the book as a 'Telescreen', which, in the vaguely futuristic era in which they live, is sort of a combination of television and Skype.  The Telescreens are set up everywhere for citizens to receive non-stop political messages from the government, while they in turn are themselves watched and overheard via these ever-present monitors.  Everyone's behavior is being constantly observed, and noted.  There is no such thing as privacy, and no one is safe.

'Big Brother' was a little bit challenging to paint, only because of how I composed this two-page horizontal spread -- in that the fold of the book was EXACTLY smack in the middle of 'Big Brother's' face (oops!).  Made things sort of tricky mechanically -- but still, I think it somehow works.....


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