Be afraid, be very afraid… for your child’s future.
That’s one of the key takeaways I gleaned from this year’s Fountain Art Fair, an annual showcase of emerging artists held in Manhattan’s historic 69th Regiment Armory.
Fountain is a fun, offbeat fair and is less stuffy than its Armory Arts Week counterparts, the Armory Show and Volta. Visitors stroll the aisles sipping cocktails in plastic cups, snapping cell-phone pics and chatting with artists. It’s a unique opportunity to get close to emerging artists in a major Manhattan venue.
After spending five hours at the Fountain Art Fair press preview on Friday– every time I tried to leave, I ended up speaking with another artist whose work stopped me dead in my tracks– a clear theme emerged. Mainly, the future is bleak for the next generation of kids. Internet porn, vanishing resources and even scary clowns contribute to their questionable fate.
Read on for highlights of this year’s Fountain show.10 Reasons to Fear for Today’s Youth: Predictions from Fountain Art Fair
#8. Internet Obsession Will Keep Kids Glued to Screens
You don’t have to be a parent to notice that children are obsessed with Internet-connected devices. We’ve all heard about the epidemic of toddlers trying to swipe the pages of a magazine or stationary TVs like they are iPads. Even elementary school children now own cell phones, and can’t fathom a life without a blazing fast Internet connection. Brooklyn artist Lori Nelson comments on this screen addiction with a massive and ever-evolving mural, which she was painting at the Fountain Art Fair on Friday.
Using quick drying oil paint, Nelson has created a dreamlike landscape of children who have been hypnotized by the Internet. Like moths to a flame, they huddle around brightly lit mobile devices and are drawn to a strong Internet signal emanating from the center of the piece. Although peppered with fantastical elements the setting of Nelson’s work looks a lot like New York City and even features the Brooklyn Bridge.
It’s clear that the Internet is the new opiate for the masses, as dazed children ignore their environment in order to focus exclusively on their screens. (Plus, you can’t miss the giant mushroom at the center of the painting). This art work is ever-changing, as Nelson exclusively works on it during art fairs; she started creating the piece last summer at Governor’s Island and adds a panel or two every time she paints at an event.
In the ultimate irony, I couldn’t wait to snap photos of the work with my iPhone– a digital screen I am hopelessly addicted to. I captured this shot of curator Krista Saunders viewing Nelson’s work through her own lens at the Arcilesi|Homberg booth.
#4. Mutant, Cyborg Baby Dolls… ‘Nuff Said
Clowns have always been creepy, but what could be more innocent than a little child’s doll? For generations, children have sought comfort in dolls and stuffed animals… until now. With children exploring their newfound independence– thanks to the Internet and mobile phones– it only seems appropriate that their baby dolls take on adult characteristics too.
This figurine at the Arcilesi/Homberg booth caught my eye but I didn’t get a close look until I checked out my photos after the fair. As a result, I don’t have any artist info on this one. However, I’m guessing this is the work of someone who lives in an old Victorian mansion, collects porcelain dolls and has a secret S&M collection in the attic. The doll’s head is encased in a netted mask, while its body has the contours of a grown woman. This isn’t a baby doll you’d want to cuddle at night for a sense of security.