Rob Hitzig is an exhibiting artist in our Looking Outward exhibition – on view from outdoors through January 31, 2020. Visit his artist website HERE.
The idea of painting “ART?” came to me on November 9, 2016 out of confusion, frustration, and fear. I thought, “What to do now?” The challenge is to create relevant art that bridges political divides, brings people together, and opens minds. So the question is for myself and to myself, but it is also a challenge to others. Though it is easy, and perhaps even self-gratifying, to create art that only reaching an audience that already agrees with a certain point of view, the real challenge is to create something that does actual good in the world. But how?
I believe that an important part of that process is creating opportunities for real and honest dialog. A good starting point is to ask a question that jump starts critical thinking. The goal of my “ART?” series is to be a vehicle for opening minds through discussion. How many different ways can it be read? What is the purpose of art? What is it good for? Is a piece good or bad? What is art? What is an artist saying? Thankfully, there are no absolute answers, no easy solutions.
Unfortunately, I haven’t found the last four years to be reassuring. At a time in which it seems that facts and logic are useless, art is needed more than ever. Artists need to find a way to reach people because there is more urgency than ever – as a country, as a planet, as living beings, we are running out of time. I’m unsure of the best way to proceed but I love how art poses questions in which the answers spur conversation, in which the answers can be viewed with acceptance and without judgment. That’s at least a starting point.
Bumper Sticker Project
It is absurd to believe bumper stickers can change the world. Yet we try. Bumper stickers are a uniquely American phenomenon that are ubiquitous on our roadways. Only in the U.S. do people broadcast their beliefs systems and promote their ideas on the back of their cars. Typically, they shout what others should think, do, or believe.
Does any of it do any good? I have found that even if I agree with the sentiments, seeing them makes me feel defensive, they feel like an invasion of my mental space. My bumper sticker project started in 2013 as an effort to do the opposite, say nothing and intentionally leave others in peace.
As the series has developed I have found that by saying nothing they actually inspire things much more profound than I initially realized. Because they are placed where people expect to be inundated with a slogan, viewers search for meaning. As a result, the images are catalysts for questioning and thinking. The ambiguity plants an internal seed of discussion that sometimes even results in conversations with the owner of the other vehicle. Because they are non-offensive and inconsequential, they can be a starting point for open and honest dialog.
Also, I believe that by not projecting a specific idea, they are actually projecting acceptance of others. By being respectful of others they are welcoming them into dialog. Ultimately, this is an act of love.
An important part of the project is that the bumper stickers be free because it symbolizes equality. However, I also need the project to be self-sustaining, I cannot afford to give away bumper stickers indefinitely to everyone. As a result, I created a few rules for distribution, simply stated: All U.S. residents are entitled to one free bumper sticker as long as they promise to put it on their vehicle. All other bumper stickers are $10. To view the collection and contact the artist for a bumper sticker, visit his website HERE.