The Taber Gallery at Holyoke Community College will be exhibiting the work of Easthampton artist Neal Parks through Dec. 19. For his exhibit, "The Social Onion: Imaging Identity," Parks took nearly 200 copies of a single self-portrait and, with pen and ink, turned those photographs into a series of images of iconic persons from history and pop culture.
For example, the film character Beetlejuice is paired with teen singer Miley Cyrus, Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz with the Dali Lama, Bob Marley with Bob Dylan, Mother Teresa with Angelina Jolie (as Lara Croft from Tomb Raider), and Babe Ruth with Red Sox slugger David Ortiz. These characters are paired together to create "a union of opposites" to provoke thought and discussion about the social implications of pop culture today.
"They speak to a universal human experience," says Parks, who lives in Easthampton.
Several years in the making, Parks' large body of work comprising "The Social Onion" is sometimes humorous, sometimes poignantly serious. The artist changes his features in each piece, crossing gender and numerous ethnic lines.
"This show addresses how an everyman can image himself as others," says Parks.
Neal Parks is a nationally known artist living and working in Easthampton, Mass. He holds fine art degrees from Cranbrook Academy of Art and Pratt Institute and teaches art as an adjunct professor at Eastern Connecticut State University in Willimantic, Conn.
More details about the exhibit are available at: http://www.socialonion.com
The Taber Art Gallery is open Monday through Thursdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. during regular school sessions. It is open to the public and located through the HCC Campus Library lobby on the second floor of the HCC Donahue Building, 303 Homestead Ave., Holyoke.
For more information, please contact Amy Johnquest, director, Taber Art Gallery, at (413) 552-2614.
Photos: (Left) Artist Neal Parks explains his exhibit, "The Social Onion: Imaging Identity," now on display in HCC's Taber Gallery. (Right) Viewers at a reception look at Parks' work.