Tim Rutledge Senior Thesis Review Essay, Research Paper
Adv. Essay Writing
Tuesday, April 17, 2001
Tim Rutledge – Senior Thesis
Tim Rutledge’s Senior Thesis Show is a series of nine untitled works that are very dramatic in the kind of lighting he uses along with the classical style from which he paints. All the works in the show emit the feeling of isolation and solitude. With a combination of still life and figurative work the paintings start to tell a story of why his subjects are so isolated.
After reading Rutledge’s thesis paper it became very clear to me why he chose his subject matter. He writes:
…I became very interested in the anthropological phenomenon known as cargo cult. Traditionally found in Melanesia, the term cargo cult refers to a native religious movement holding that at the millennium the spirits of the dead will return and bring with them cargoes of modern goods for the distribution among its adherents. (1)
At first entering this show the viewer is over come by the dramatic dark background present in all the works. Rutledge uses a very concentrated light on his still-lives which contain pink flamingo lawn sculptures or fuzzy dice. He paints these subjects in a very classical style showing all the detail and reality of what he is using to tell his story. By using pink flamingos and fuzzy dice Rutledge brings his subjects to the level of absurd sentimentality. These items take a person away to another place like a tropical island or nightlife of Las Vegas. They are also treated as sacred items in the other paintings, with four different paintings of figures in white gloves holding a pink flamingo Beanie Baby. The use of the Beanie Baby flamingo is chosen to contemporize the plastic flamingo to fit into our modern culture today. The figures are also very isolated in dark backgrounds like the Melanesian natives in their Western culture. Rutledge explains further by saying:
The individuals of my paintings appear in an isolated state; alone with their thoughts of a coming time. The painted subjects piously hold fast to their hallowed flamingos with gloved hands usually reserved for sacred artifacts, fine works of art, and the like. My subjects are members of the Western cargo cult clutching to their precious religious objects (i.e. fantastic personal dreams) with the same religious reverence that the Melanesian natives for their own physical Western objects. (3)
Rutledge tops off his show with what I feel is the most illustrative piece in the whole collection. This work is roughly 18”x 24” and depicts a landscape with a beautiful bright blue sky divided at the horizon by a dark building structure. In the structure you can faintly make out a figure in a window. They seem to be patiently waiting for their cargo from the heavens to arrive.
In the center of the composition is a large box wrapped with loving care that is floating in the sky. After viewing this work I feel that it describes almost just as much information as the thesis paper.
Rutledge has told the story and explains the entire show with just this one piece. This could be a very dangerous thing to do in the fine art way of thinking but I feel this is an exception. What Rutledge has done is given us an extra treat, you could say, into his open mind of what another culture has centered their beliefs on and the impact it has made on his own life.