Matt Hansel unveils “Youth Is Wasted,” his tour-de-force ‘coming of age’ solo debut at Jack the Pelican, featuring paintings and sculptures about teenage stoners. The artist was raised in rural West Virginia, before arriving at Cooper Union in NYC and then Yale for his MFA. Enough said.
Sneaking off to get stoned is a sacred teenage ritual. In the country, and especially at night, adolescents rule the woods, like they do their own bedrooms when the door is shut and the stereo is blasting. They seek out these areas just off the road, where in the shadow of tall trees and wild grasses, they can control the distance between themselves and anyone who might happen to arrive—like deer, to run if necessary. But, in general, they are safe here.
Maybe ‘tweens’ would be more accurate, as Hansel’s subjects are at that androgynous age, neither truly manly nor feminine, when a heartfelt belief in the world’s enchantment (hormones maybe?) hides behind the budding cynicism of de-individualizing cultish paraphernalia. Adults no longer recognize their kids, but they are at heart still truly innocent.