COREY WASH (b. Baltimore, Maryland) works across a diverse range of media as she explores the ideas evolving around environment, culture, and identity today.
As comfortable behind the camera as in front of it, Wash initially moved to New York in 2011 to pursue a career in photography and modeling. Working alternately as artist and subject, she became inspired to express the liminal space between these experiences as moved from photography into media like painting and drawing. In a palette reminiscent of papelpicado(Mexican party banners), the artist began filling notebooks, wood panels and canvasses with cartoons depicting her interior life.
Taken together, the artist’sbitinglyfunny pictures form a cartoon-scape of contemporary concern. While much of Wash’s work is autobiographical, her gender/race non-specific character, Willoughby, is not a direct stand in for the artist – rather, Willoughby channels the many human characters Washencounters in her life. In scenes which seem to cut through reality, Willoughby and his friends consider the complicated business of saving humanity from threats like global warming, racism, misogyny, ignorance and poverty.
In the tradition of artists like Red Grooms and David Shrigley, the doodle realm illustrated in Wash’s work serves as a lightly veiled caricature of the world we live in today. But here in the artist’s universe, characters confess thoughts and feelings they’d be more likely to Google or tell their therapist than say to someone’s face. Whether she draws a single figure on a sheet of construction paper or fills an oversize canvas with characters spilling out of comic-style windows – the artist’s unfettered honesty, sharp wit, and thoughtful restraint animate scenes capable of instantly captivating the viewer. In contrast to the veritable media frenzy we experience daily in contemporary life, herwork has the uncanny ability to immediately capture the viewer’s attention and direct our focus inwards.
Through her characters’ confessional nature, the artist appeals to our humanity while revealing and an age of anxiety perhaps unparalleled in human history. Today, headlines in hyperbole clog our inboxes and newsfeeds. As we scroll unblinkingly on, we absorb reports of innumerable horrors while trying to emotionally, intellectually, and logistically cope with the realities they announce. In thought and speech bubbles which read like snappy Instagram captions, Willoughby and his pals give us a glimpse into the effects of a rapidly changing world on a generation attempting to move forward into an ever uncertain political, environmental, and technological future. By connecting to our inner lives, Wash’swork succeeds in producing moments of self-consciousness, introspection, and thoughtfulness in the viewer and in so doing – provides the fertile psychological ground required to heal this planet, ourselves, and each other.