Artist and social activist Domenic Esposito presents a new series of artwork entitled ‘Blank Slate (Tabula Rasa).’ The work comprises sculpture, painting, and drawing as well as pieces which combine two- and three-dimensional media.
In his earlier series ‘We’re Only Human,’ the artist examines how societal forces infiltrate and shape individuals’ minds, often resulting in malignant inner conflicts.
‘Blank Slate’ reflects upon a moment in time in which the stakes of mental health have been unilaterally raised. Marketing departments use disease to emotionally manipulate us into buying more. Our minds and bodies are used as test grounds for something we did not ask for, some vague regime change in the governance of our very humanity
Individuals living with mental health difficulties and those suffering the scourge of addiction and its many knock-on effects are perhaps dually isolated in this ‘New Normal’. Disconnected from their support networks, how are they to cope? The fallout from this aspect of the affects of our strange new world are yet to be tabulated.
The term Tabula Rasa (from the Latin: “scraped tablet” — i.e., “blank slate”) derives from the reusable wax slates used by the Romans as writing surfaces. In epistemology and psychology, it refers to the debate around whether or not humans are born with any ‘pre-programmed’ knowledge. Are we created with intrinsic propensities, or are we entirely a product of our experiences and socialization?
All of the figures depicted in Blank Slate are hooded, their faces either totally hidden from view or only partially visible. Hoodies are an immensely utilitarian type of garment, usually constructed from a warm, dense fabric, a pullover with the added feature of a hood and – frequently – pockets. Their usefulness and ubiquity has resulted in their being adopted by wearers of all backgrounds, and by suppliers from the purveyors of everyday essentials to the realm of high fashion.
In this new series of artworks, bronze patinas contrast with painted grounds to shed light on the inner world of the hooded figure, and allude to the wearer’s identity. Are they a celebrity trying to hide from the paparazzi, a street addict, cold and worn, or just an ‘Everyman?’ Through the combination of two- and three-dimensional media, the artworks push the hooded subject into our visceral space.
“We’re Only Human”
In “We’re Only Human” the artist explores the pressure, struggle and pain in a society that has left us increasingly powerless against vices and dependencies.
The Opioid Spoon
Wrought with emotion, The Opioid Spoon, which began as a 10 ft Monumental Steel sculpture, and has evolved into smaller Bronze and Nickel Plated Aluminium Editions, is at once deeply personal and highly public. They refer quite obviously to the Opioid Crisis which has and continues to decimate lives, families and communities across the United States and the World. It is a crisis which has touched countless lives, including those of the Artist’s family.
The work began with the performative action of ‘dropping’ 10.5 ft Steel sculptures outside the offices of key players in the crisis, notably Purdue Pharma as well as the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Recently, a specially created piece travelled along the Eastern United States, stopping at more than a dozen locations where it acted as a blank canvas and could be signed in memory of those already lost to the opioid crisis.
The Bronze Edition, titled ‘Accountability’, bears a ‘stain’ that shines a light on the architects of the opioid crisis. The Nickel Plated Aluminium, entitled ‘Hope’ has had this stain removed, pointing to a future free from this hideous affliction.
100% of proceeds from any sales of the Spoon sculptures or editions benefit The Opioid Spoon Project, a 501(c)(3) non-profit