Millennials have been raised to strive for the best possible life, because that is what has been given to them - access to opportunity, and the emotional support they’d need to achieve it. Hovering family and friends laud their successes, listen to their complaints, and clear the paths of the obstacles and challenges that made their own experiences so trying. And yet, despite this foolproof, cushy narrative that was created for them, millennials are struggling, leaving us wondering what happened?
With the unrelenting exposure to news headlines, social media, and the increasing societal pressures to “achieve” what their parents did, amidst a completely different economy and culture, paralyzing anxiety and fear of the unknown future have taken root in their young minds. At the same time, they acknowledge and celebrate the diversity of their experiences, of race, sexual identity, economic status, of religion. Those who have been lucky enough to be employed in a post-2008 economy watch out for their friends stuck in internships, in endless assistant-ships, behind the counter of their local coffee shop. While their situation is remarkably different from that of generations before them, they still struggle to obtain the future that was envisioned for them.
AMERICAN PATHOS attempts to capture the dark cloud of millennial doubt that constantly rears its head, even during periods of stability and satisfaction. The heady joy of a senior prom, a large step towards independence, is counterbalanced by the age-old question of now what? as evidenced in the painting The Prom(ise). The Young Americans plants millennials in bucolic Americana; they sit together, the front porch on a summer day, barefoot and carefree, yet there is an unexplainable sadness in their faces.
They do not quite know what the next step is, inviting uncertainty, melancholy, and desolation to descend as they try to figure it out. The series portraitizes millennials at that moment in time.
This newest series was inspired by the earliest movies which were short, flickering images creating the illusion of motion. As in the first theaters to show these films more than a century ago, Nick.e.lo.de.on captures individual “frames” of a dancer in motion. The spotlight flickers on and off…and with the contrast of shadow and light recaptures the wonders of the human body and expression.
Sherri Wolfgang’s “Twisted” series of life sized paintings, dramatically captures our society’s fascination with warped mental and physical states of cosmetic surgery. Using her own body as model, she creates a narrative of what she is witnessing. Our society’s culture of youth obsession and physical beauty has taken its toll on American women’s self image and esteem - to the point of twisting and distorting their own bodies and minds. Whether it’s marking up Wolfgang’s own body to show the dehumanization inherent in potential cosmetic surgeries, images of finding detached body parts on a train, or tracking the hopes and then horrified realizations of pre – and post – surgeries, Wolfgang’s works exposes the essence of this unfortunate and unnecessary phenomenon.
Mental illness takes a toll on not just individuals and their families, but on our larger society. Although mental illness was not Wolfgang's own, it unfortunately became a part of her life and impacted her in every way possible. The process of painting and creating art helped purge Wolfgang's emotional, physical and financial ordeals. Art was her vital catharsis for what was happening to herself and her family. Through that horrific and tragic journey, painting protected her sanity and preserved her well-being.
Wolfgang spent her early years in disciplined, rigorous training drawing the figure and learning the science of anatomy. Traditionally, drawings and paintings of the nude, called "académies," were the required foundation for all artists before they were even allowed to begin drawing or painting from live models. The blueprint of Wolfgang's paintings has always been a strong aesthetic in drawing and she still follows traditional steps, becoming familiar with the contour, light and shade, and then layering with oils and resins.
As a young artist, Wolfgang co-founded an enormously successful illustration studio in New York City in 1983, The Dynamic Duo Studio, Inc. Through the years The Dynamic Duo Studio won numerous industry awards for its covers for the New York Times magazine, Worth, Barrons, Time, Forbes, Business Week, Der Spiegel plus other recognition for work that appeared in national and international newspapers. In addition, illustrations from The Dynamic Duo have been the centerpiece for some of the most famous advertising campaigns in the U.S. (Coca-Cola, IBM, Burger King, Reebok, NBC, Nike, MTV, and Nickleodeon). Although Wolfgang’s early commercial career revolved around illustration, she has always maintained her fine art roots in traditional painting.