PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARK SOMMERFELD & CHRISTOPHER SHERMAN
STYLING & WORDS BY ELIZABETH CABRAL
“At the end of the day, my work is me navigating and negotiating a moment, not directly explaining but pointing to the direction of how I feel about it. My responsibility is to work through those ideas and philosophize on it. I don’t think there’s an actual answer and it’s not as binary as ‘you either do or don’t participate’. For me it’s the human condition and as human beings we’re much more complicated. We are all hypocritical in so many ways, that’s the very experience of being a person.”
Chloe Wise’s trajectory as a multi-disciplinary artist through sculpture, painting and video is built on her satirical and highly astute societal observations and its consumerist construct. Not coincidentally, her past work has examined two of the world’s most exhaustive industries: fashion and food. Wise’s notable collection of designer bread bags—carb-loaded still life’s—explored aspirational culture. About its popularity in fashion circles, Wise says “it completed the criticism that fashion is gullible to signifiers of its own individual language.” Recent still-life and portrait work explored the milk fable, a politized notion of government dictates, wellness and its subsequent relation to climate change. Of late Wise has been focused on a collection of captivating portraits, a more intimate extension of people beyond their surfaced behavior.
“As an artist, my role culturally as a producer of images, of language, of rhetoric, of opinions…”
“Often the American dream is so closely linked with consumption and production that it feels like it’s in the mind of some mid-century American ideal, and that it would be against those values to not be consuming. But I think we’re now realizing it’s our responsibility to at least be aware of our contributions to that.
“I think people have had a reckoning with the variations of vegetarianism, I feel that vegetarianism and food consumption is completely linked to other kinds of consumerist activity. It’s not just about fashion, toys for your kid or the obsolescent culture surrounding iPhones, it’s also related to food because there is so much waste and so many systems at work that are so much larger than us, that it’s much easier to focus on what we want. People focus on diet as opposed the systems of production.”
Despite the gravity of the underlying subjects of Wise’s exploration and work, she broaches doom and gloom scenarios with a satirical bent. Humor, she says, is a unifier and perhaps makes critical observations more palatable to her often young audience.
“Satire is an important political tool but it’s best when you’re criticizing or satirizing over something you’re a part of. I’m not going to satirize something I have no idea about. I can satirize myself as a millennial who’s having a black sesame, activated charcoal, oat milk latte, while talking about consumerism. For me that’s why it is hilarious, the friction for me is funny.
“Art is an elitist place to discuss world is-sues when in reality, if you really care about issues, get out there and go be. I donated a painting to a conservationist cause instead of me physically going to conserve, is there a problem with that? I don’t know. But can I work thorough that, try to acknowledge things we do or don’t do are not clear cut and who we are is not black and white. We’re fluctuating beings, we’re fluid.
“However we consume imagery: on TV, a wall, Instagram, wherever you’re consuming art, that’s great. But maybe one of the focuses of art should be finding a way to make non-verbally clear these feelings, inconsistencies or paradoxes so you can be like, “Aha!” and maybe slowly that affects you and little by little you find yourself drinking your golden latte being like ‘I feel like I’ve changed a bit’ You know what I mean?”