The Art Will Go On
Earlier this week, CNN had an article on Dennis Hwang. He’s the artist who does all the specialized Google logos for holidays and special events. Like many others, for years I’ve been looking at his work and never really thought about the artist behind it.
To me, there is something very captivating, almost romantic, about art where the artist’s identity is not readily attached. For all I know the artist could be dead or forgotten and it’s exactly that notion that makes the concept so appealing to me! The artist, regardless of whereabouts, still possesses a tiny bit of immortality because his/her work lives on.
I thought about that a lot in Mrs. Plaut’s Humanties classes, particularly when we were looking at pieces of Ancient Greek pottery. The artists’ identities are no longer (and may have never been) known. But thousands of years after their deaths, we know they were once on this great earth. We know because we’re looking at (not to mention studying) their handiwork!
Ink Sketch on Paper Napkin
My favorite example of anonymous art was stumbled upon in Savannah, Georgia. Excerpt from my journal entry on December 31, 1998:
In March while visiting Savannah, I was waiting alone [in a bar] for Sean and Ryan [Schutt]. I saw something yellow and wrinkled hanging on the bar wall. Upon further investigation I realized it was a napkin with a city scape drawn on it. It’s caption read, “Pre-War Dresden, Germany.” The picture was dated nearly 25 years ago! Not only did someone remember a beautiful city that was later destroyed during WWII, but someone saw beauty in this napkin and saved it nearly a quarter of a century. It was a drawing on a napkin, nearly a doodle, and someone preserved it all these years. The artist did not leave his/her name on the napkin– nonetheless the artist left a mark.
It’s been 8 years since I saw that napkin in Savannah and here I am still thinking about it! In fact, it has made more than one appearence in my journals. Even though I’ll never know the artist’s name, that seemingly trivial doodle continues to live on in my mind. Through that napkin, the artist lives on… as well as his/her memory of pre-war Dresden.
“Hire Vicky” Cheerleader
As it turns out, I may have my own little subtle legacy living in cyberspace. Oddly, that legacy may not lie in my years of hard work with QualTrax. Instead– it may lie in a simple, animated GIF I did in a single afternoon in college!
In preparing to land my first real summer job, I added a simple little animated GIF (emphasis on simple– I made the frames in an application kin to Paint) to my personal web site. It was a little cheerleader who’d jump up and down and hold up a sign that said “HIRE VICKY!” She even had a little green V on her chest. Green for my favorite color and V for Vicky. It seemed to do the trick– I got an absolutely, inspiring job at a Web Development firm in Reston which sent me on my way to the career I have now.
Anyway, somewhere along the line the cheerleader got added to an animated GIF gallery. Then at some point a school emailed me and asked if I could make a version without the “HIRE VICKY!” sign so they could use it. I cut out the last frame and sent it along. All of a sudden, my cheerleader was popping up in unexpected places… like Brian Nenninger’s grandfather’s personal webpage!
The cheerleader is over a decade old now, but I still run across her. A lot of people change the colors. Some people have made her a still shot. Some people have shrunk her and others have made her larger. I am surprised, however, how few people remove the “V” from her chest.
Here’s a sampling of the different variations:
|Red Bay High School|
|Valley High Athletics|
|Diana Flick’s Harrisonburg High Page|
|New York State Education Department|
|Clinton Elementary School
Not sure this one stays true to my original vision– they erased part of her mouth!
|Miracle League of El Paso|
|Vaughan Road Alumni Association|
The yellow smile is a nice touch.
|Faubion Middle School Calendar|
|Mid River Eagles Football
I like this one because they use DHTML to have the cheerleader go all over the page. I also like how the cheerleader is apparently celebrating the Eagles losing 30 to 0.
The Hire Vicky Cheerleader certainly isn’t as moving as the “Pre-War Dresden” cityscape and it doesn’t have the high visibility of Dennis Hwang’s work, that’s for sure.
But in the arena of leaving your mark, I think you should take whatever you can get!