newark bunker projects presents the drawing series of Lake Worth/Baltimore artist and MICA undergraduate Evan Petersen Schoenly:
“Savage Circumstances” May 6 thru 28 Viewing times: Wed-Fri, 12-6pm
Schoenly created the title for this series from a phrase drawn from the fifth State of the City Address that current Newark Mayor Cory Booker delivered on March 1, 2011: “Last year, savage circumstances tried to knock our city to its knees. But here we are, standing tall, bruised but not broken.” Looking up the phrase reveals that Booker has mentioned it in several statements. It is in the sixth line of his poem Prisoner of Hope: “Battered and bruised our spirits may be; As savage circumstance brings the dark night.” He also sent it to his Twitter newsfeed on October 7, 2009: “Never give up. Savage circumstances and the most caustic critics are 2 be expected. Essential 2 every great victory is a great endurance.”
Put in this context, “Savage Circumstances” encapsulates sentiments of light in the midst of engulfing darkness, hope amidst dismay, and growth despite decay. Schoenly’s drawings embody these in the formal and conceptual parts of his work. Concerning his medium, there’s a literal take on the definition of “savage” in his rough treatment of the surfaces of the Red Rosin construction paper that he uses, layering them and leaving the edges uneven in several sides. Formally: his tendency towards economy of form carries a potential for a diversity of messages, suggestions and meanings just like Booker’s statement. And conceptually: just as Booker’s statement always conclude on hopeful notes on human resiliency and endurance, Schoenly’s often violent and graphic imagery resolve in the same spirit through his use of buoyant color, thus loading his imagery with simultaneous messages of hope and despair.
Originally from Lake Worth, Florida where he lived most of his life, Schoenly’s current work is made of quick sketchy color drawings of passages and excerpts of the social problems and mundane things and events that defined the “subtropical paradise” where he lived. Very much up to date with current events and history, and having family members who are active participants in local politics and community groups, Schoenly’s often graphic and violent imagery underscores an artist who is deeply aware and concerned with the his community’s past, present and future.