The American soap opera As the World Turns premiered in 1956 and was on air for 54 years, ending in 2010. From the show’s genesis, it was clear that its audience was hooked. Stalkers and fist fights, marriages and murders, illnesses and deaths, infidelities and custody battles are key elements of the melodrama’s plot lines and by 1975, As the World Turns garnered an audience of over ten million viewers daily. Irna Phillips, the soap opera’s creator, said of the show: “As the world turns, we know the bleakness of winter, the promise of spring, the fullness of summer, and the harvest of autumn—the cycle of life is complete.”
The soap opera depicts similar trials we may face in our day-to-day reality, but dressed in hyperbole and glamour. In the pandemic-stricken, political malaise we find ourselves in today, the parallels of As the World Turns and our reality become clear. The world continues, despite the very recent upheaval of what we once considered normalcy. The world continues as we breathe relief for a vaccine. The world continues as the artist enters the studio and reflects on how to depict the world itself.
Courtney Puckett’s work carries an obsessive nature that transforms found objects into fabric-wrapped sculptures. The individual objects Puckett selects become obscured by vibrant textiles and wire, losing its identifiable characteristics. Instead, each item is part of a whole, creating colorful forms bound tightly together by yarn and fabric scraps. The objects are personified and often mimic the human form through scale and shape.
Catherine Mulligan’s work confronts the viewer with the dialectical relationship between delusion and reality, authenticity and distortion. As source material, Mulligan cites observed reality coupled with advertisements and tabloids for her portraits of dilapidated store fronts and (often-times headless) fashion models. Though advertisements and tabloids utilize a different medium than soaps, they convey a similar message–an exaggerated existence of drama and extravagance. Through the inversion of color, Mulligan furthers the separation of reality and the illustrated image. The artists’ storefronts conjure a suburban dystopia, muddied with dismal shades of grey paint that are scraped off, reapplied, and then scraped off once more.
Will Hutnick uses grey as a neutral ground, offering a resting place for the viewer as the eye dances within his dynamic compositions. Graphic prints and lines blur into lines on a television screen, and are softened by hazy gradients and rorschach-esque blotches. Hutnick does not shy from combining mediums; a closer look reveals a surface covered in sand, glass beads, and layers upon layers of paint. The work carries a type of gravity due to the surface and finished edges of the canvas. They do not serve merely as paintings, but also as sculptural objects. The sides of each canvas are intently cared for, resulting in a surprise for the viewer as they move around the work.