Cori Redstone

The primary focus of my artwork is the relationship of potential future human and ecological conditions to the present. Through imagery, I interrogate the ways in which technologically based optimism has become pathologized and simultaneously acknowledge that these coming technologies will inevitably be folded into the narratives of who we are.  In the greatest age of science and knowledge, our minds are still enchanted by the idea of easy and magical solutions to our greatest problems. Humanity is developing technology faster than we develop the wisdom to manage it. Seductively easy solutions are in stark contrast to preventing the problems in the first place. My favorite subjects are transhumanism, behavioral psychology, consciousness, mass protest, geoengineering, surveillance, data collection, artificial intelligence and carbon capture. All have made pathways into my work.

Historically humans have always been pathologically optimistic. These are the same instincts that drive us to explore, migrate, search for grand scientific discoveries and even play the lottery. Our endless capacity for optimism is what gets us out of bed in the mornings.

The people in my paintings are considering or participating in insurrectionary action against the status quo, doing what others deem odd and struggling to fit into a modern world that doesn’t make sense. The perspective of the depicted subjects is an invitation extended to viewers to consider alternative ways of being, thinking and living. Technology almost always appears in the works with a certain ambivalence and casual integration. Being raised in a strict religious household and community ruled by castigating male patriarchs gave me an intrinsic need to expose the misdeeds of corrupt authority figures and a desire to rebel against their 1950’s version of what a girl and woman should be. From a young age I took interest in how expectations, behaviors, and consequences become codified into social systems. My sign paintings are a maxim to undermine the regimented borders of what is socially acceptable.

The greatest influence on my art is my previous and ongoing work in public policy and as an organizer for human rights issues, namely environmental degradation and its relationship to not only climate change but local ecological, social, political and economic erosion. I often organize mass protests, run art builds, design messaging for causes and lobby for and against local and national policies. I don’t view this work as part of my art practice but another activity that fulfills my life and informs the thought and imagery that finds its way into my works. In my paintings I utilize the forms of banner making that I have used and taught, the language and organizing of activism, the different forms of protests and the materials of protest such as banners, paracord, discarded wood, bike tires, extending poles etc. Advocating for the integration of the arts into social movements is of utmost importance to me and I was published on the subject in 2016.

As a young girl, I became transfixed by how individual choices and collective rituals from individuals shape the broader world and how our society might be regarded long after we are gone. I often thought about where humanity is going and where it should be and wanted to understand the motivations behind irrational and destructive or predatory actions. I wondered how we could find our greatest potential and appropriate our predisposition for social contagion to make the world a better place.

These thoughts were seeded by my first-hand experiences studying an ancient civilization through their art. Much of my primary school years were spent working and living on a family farm and ranch with distant cousins near Mesa Verde in the four-corners area. The artifacts of the Anasazi inspired me to think about the artifacts left after we are gone. After we plowed the red soil I traversed the fields searching for pieces of newly exposed pottery, arrowheads and adobe walls. These were the remnants of the indigenous American Anasazi that had mysteriously disappeared over 800 years prior. I still recall the connection I felt the first time I located a fingerprint in a pottery remnant and put my finger where the ancient artisan once did. I drew sketches of the pottery, copied the patterns I found and experimented with making paints from local plants. I copied the scant petroglyphs found in a nearby canyon on our property and explored a small granary on a cliff and cautiously excavated the surrounding areas. Riding my favorite horse Buck on routine errands to find a wandering animal or move water was an opportunity to disappear until dusk and avoid kitchen duty. Many days I explored a massive nearby pueblo then sat silently in a 1000-year-old keva and pictured the conversations that might have transpired, wondering if the women were allowed to participate.

My most recent series, “Angle of Repose” is an examination of states of rest as a response to current social turmoil and an invitation to cautiously reflect upon the best courses of action moving forward rather than merely reacting.