William Evertson’s latest series of woodblock prints draws inspiration from the idea of fake news, disinformation, propaganda, and the construction of divisive narratives that drive culture wars. The works in Politics, Protest, History, and Myth layer culturally resonant imagery upon overlapping themes from both our national and global history and mythos, examining the nature of shared ideas in a climate of extreme politicization. The woodblock printing method provides a bold, graphic media through which the artist seeks to understand the structure of both past and present. Combining historical research with old printing technology to comment on new but recurring issues, Evertson lays bare pervasive societal flaws that cross time and culture.
Born in 1952, Evertson grew up with drills hiding under desks in preparation for nuclear war – a precursor to today’s active shooter drills. While a twenty-something artist, America’s landscape of cultural and political upheaval - including the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, anti-war protests, Black Panthers, the Chicago Seven, and Kent State massacre – helped foment Evertson’s passion for activist art.
The prints in Politics, Protest, History, and Myth continue Evertson’s interest in asserting political activism through visual media. Using collaged imagery, often blending art historical and printmaking allusions with modern references gleaned from the internet and television, Evertson creates familiar yet irreverent scenes packed with biting socio-political commentary, allowing an examination of current polarizing rhetoric through historic counterpoints. The effect is humorous, but also (and more importantly) contemplative, as the prints detail an account of the frightening, yet somehow buffoonish possible downfall of contemporary western democracy.
Evertson additionally pulls from Roland Barthes’ Mythologies, Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle, and surrealist author René Daumal’s Mount Analogue for inspiration in his choice of imagery and narrative. Drawing upon these writings’ various philosophies, allegories, and semiotics, the artist explores a visual representation of the indifference towards and normalization of extremist viewpoints. Of particular interest in Evertson’s most recent work is the transformation of the Republican party’s platform - from the traditional obstruction of progressive ideas into MAGA’s theocratic authoritarian inclinations. The artist examines the subtle relationship of constructing mythologies as a propaganda technique, begetting the circulation of disinformation, to the advantage of the powerful and detriment of the masses. Evertson’s use of prints – a traditionally more proletariat artform – is a clever subversion of this, establishing his own iconography within editioned works to counteract widespread falsehoods.
William Evertson: Politics, Protest, History, and Myth is on view in the Childs Gallery Print Department October 6 through December 10, 2022. A reception with the artist will be held Thursday, October 6, 6-8pm.