Surprise! Creative Loafing’s College Guide hit newsstands this morning, revealing Sam Parker as the winner of its student cover art contest. (Parker is a graduate student at Georgia State.) Check out his interview online, or on page 23 of the print edition. Minus the typography, the image is a detail from his July exhibit at Beep Beep Gallery. The series is titled Neoteny, since it addresses themes of youthful innocence. However, despite the playful tone, the artist has stated that these drawings represent some of his most mature work to date. Is it a paradox? Exactly what sort of maturity has he achieved?
Today, I’m less interested in defending Sam Parker than I am eager to understand the values at stake in his work. Several local artists have recently drifted away from illustration. For example, Michi Meko and Born are both experimenting with found objects. Dosa Kim’s latest work has returned to his earlier pop-art style; the paintings currently hanging at Alan Avery Art Company would live quite comfortably next door to Takashi Murakami.
So, what sort of statement has Sam Parker made since his solo exhibit in 2008, as he continues to pursue his love of the human mark? Is Neoteny simply illustration, or is it something more?