Lee Ann Paynter’s photographs inaugurate this week’s featured works of art chosen to explore contemporary obstacles relating to constructive identity development and preservation. Outwardly political in nature, these images document a multifaceted social demonstration in our nation’s capitol. The visual data seems to depict support for the advocacy of a more conducive platform for reasonable conversation and potential compromise between Americans.
Consequently, this work also illustrates a growing necessity for the realization of a more cohesive and collaborative collective identity among the American people. However, the text on the signage in each of these photographs also parallels the internal dialogue that may accompany one’s own inner struggles in an attempt to forge a satisfying, singular and stable personal identity.
Most of us must grapple from time to time with choosing sides, so to speak, between two or more opposing opinions that overlap and each posit understandable arguments. It is often difficult to discern which viewpoints to accept and cultivate, even when merely basing our judgments on our own previous personal experiences. Distinguishing between right and wrong (or good and bad) is rarely, if ever, a black and white issue, regardless of the predominate subject matter of such an issue, be it social, political or personal.
As a group, these three documentary images relate to the current, ongoing struggle for an inclusive collective identity as Americans. What draws me most to these photographs, though, is their simultaneous ability to perceptively detail the internal quest for a sound identity on an individual level. –Megan Kociscak
Lee Ann is a Kentucky native and a current Lecturer in UK’s School of Art and Visual Studies. Actively committed to social justice issues, she was recently selected as a member of the 2016 cohort of Cultural Agents for the United States Department of Arts and Culture (and NGO), and serves as a Steering Committee Member with Kentuckians for the Commonwealth. Prior to that she received a BFA from the University of Kentucky in 2009. Lee Ann’s work has been exhibited regionally and nationally.
From Lee Ann’s artist statement: I am socially engaged both personally and artistically. As an artist and an activist, much of my work takes on social and political issues, using documentary methods, constructed narratives, and time-based media to examine human belief systems in contemporary social structures. I am using art as a tool to investigate the ideas and agency around intolerance, acceptance, and inequality, and I am particularly interested in the idea of to whom we listen, and media’s role in social behavior. The constant steam of vitriol and rhetoric that claims to be ‘truth’ breeds memes into society that can define a personal or group identity, however temporary or not.
Tolerance, empathy and understanding; we can create a world where others matter, or we can create a world where self-righteousness and groupthink ignore the ideals of those outside of our own set of beliefs. These are selected images from the Rally to Restore Sanity held on the Washington Mall in 2010, where the conflation of people and ideas from many various backgrounds, ethnicities and social status’ voiced tolerance, understanding and compromise as a collective conscience. This work intends to strip away the constraints of the ideology of the mass media and suggest possibilities in our relation to the other.
Lee Ann Paynter
What God Thinks
archival pigment print, 12.6x16in, 2010Buy Now
More Artwork by
Lee Ann Paynter:
archival pigment print, 16.25x13.5in, 2010.Buy Now
archival pigment print, 11.5x17.5in, 2010.Buy Now
At a Glance:
Name: Lee Ann Paynter
Hometown: Danville, KY
MFA Photography & Media California Institute of the Arts, Valencia 2011 BFA University of Kentucky, 2009