Vax-Nation by Randal Stringer
Vax-Nation by Randal Stringer

Perception Inspection

September 9 – October 8, 2022

The Elmhurst Artists’ Guild (EAG) is pleased to announce its upcoming exhibit, Perception Inspection, featuring two dozen original paintings by Glen Ellyn resident and EAG artist, Randal Stringer. The artwork can be viewed in the EAG Gallery inside the Elmhurst Art Museum, 150 S. Cottage Hill Ave., Elmhurst, from September 9 through October 8, 2022. Opening reception in the gallery from 7 to 9 pm on Friday, September 9, is free and open to the public.

As the title suggests, Stringer seeks to encourage viewers to inspect their perceptions, and inherent biases, through purposely ambiguous images. Stringer explained, “This work takes a critical view of social, political, and cultural issues and the flaws of indoctrination in misinformation.” Employing a capricious blend of pop culture, commercial and fine art, using simple but bold colors, lines, and repeating figures, subjects are presented as seemingly absolute. But on inspection, the factual take-away can be quite different, based upon the viewer’s own perspective, and how deeply their external knowledge has been impacted by misinformation and disinformation.

“Within my work, I feature bold, iconic images that include forms of subversive dissemination, have a focus on cultural phenomena, and address cultural constructions of power and identity,” Stringer stated. He continued, “Using simple symbolism of repeated nonbinary figures, sometimes with captions, I pinpoint specific cultural issues including consumerism, branding, globalization, and language.” The altered perceptions are enhanced through a large work accompanied by a series of smaller paintings that are similar, but all slightly different from each other.

In “Vax-Nation,” Stringer features a two-footed quasi-person with the head of a virus cell in front of the biohazard symbol. The virus character is holding a syringe in one hand, while the other hand is held out in the “stop” position, reflecting the cultural division over whether vaccines are good or bad. A prominent “X” appears over certain characters, indicating those who decline, and superimposes the statement, “my rights do not end where your fear begins.” A related smaller painting, “In Case of Emergency,” employs the same virus character against a backdrop of biohazard symbols. An orange acrylic shield is placed over the painting, further altering viewer perception with a warning color.

Another painting, “Ballot Box,” depicts a cartoonish character in a fighter pose, with outstretched but chained fists with “Veto” written on one fist and “Vote” written on the other. Stringer used bold, primary colors and typical “wham, bam” cartoon imagery in this painting to underscore the current volatility of voting rights issues.

Stringer currently works as a Chicago-area commercial artist for national and international clients in advertising, design, and publication. His career also includes work as an artist in Hollywood feature films. He is an MFA candidate at Savannah College of Art and Design and earned a BA in Graphic Communication from Missouri Southern State University. Further information on his art can be obtained from his website, www.randalstringer.com.

The EAG Gallery is open during regular Museum hours, Wed-Thu 12-5 pm and Fri-Sun 11am-5 pm. The EAG gallery is not-for-profit, operated by the Elmhurst Artists’ Guild. Sales of artworks benefit the EAG, the Museum, and the artist.