In my last blog I wrote about the cover art of J.D. Salinger books. I said that the blank covers were good because they held no pre-conceived excpectations for the readers. I also mentioned something about "fan art". I think that what I should have said was "visual interpretation", because once I started thinking about it, I realized that I have created many works based on a mixing of elements from popular culture(In the art world-and court cases-it is called appropriation). In fact, I once created an entire art show around the idea of J.D. Salinger's collection "Nine Stories". Actually, just one of the stories called "A Perfect Day For Bananafish".
A little background information should be said about the collages and the art show in general. The show was held at the Old Louisville Coffee House back in maybe 2005(?). I was asked to do a 2 person show with Brittany Ree, a local painter. Our styles and backgrounds varied from each other but in a way we felt like Warhol and Basquiat joining forces. One street artist/painter, and one silkscreen artist who had worked through the collegiate art institution. We even had a poster that parodied the Warhol/Basquiat boxing poster.
I had started with city scapes, and moved onto a series of saints, that I wanted to save for my BFA show. For some reason, I decided a series of prints illustrating Salinger's Nine Stories would be a good idea. Over the weeks leading up to the show I reread "A Perfect Day for Bananafish", drew tons of thumbnail sketches for ideas, and created collages. Everything in the collages had some sort of referential point in the text.
The cats were supposed to symbolize the "nine lives or nine viewpoints" in "Nine Stories". Not only that, but the fact that giving them human characteristics would lead back to the idea of pre-conceived images of the characters. Without the human faces, they would remain more anonymous, even though anthropomorhism would do that regardless.
The main character in this story is Seymour Glass, a member of the same family as many other Salinger characters. Most of the time Seymour is depicted as being smart, and deeply interested in eastern religions, yet he never seems to fit in with most people. He seems suspicious of the actions of others, and suicidal. In "A Perfect Day For Bananafish", he is worried about people looking at his feet, and his tattoo(which he apparently does not have).
The textual elements of the collages are supposed to give a sense of instability. They go up and down, some fit in line, and some do not. Some letters are not even the same font as the next in line. The collages themselves, also give this sense. Cat headed people, cars and floating letters are designed with the mentality of Seymour Glass in mind.
The final aspect of these collages are the fortune cookie fortunes. Each one seems to sync with the image and the story. This is a representation of the unknown. Seymour is a student of eastern religions, and fortune cookies are an Americanized version of eastern religion. This is used to further drive home the division between Seymour, and the people he is surrounded by. The idea being that the average American's idea of eastern religion was created in California(if I remember right), and delivered after dinner, while Seymour has based his whole existence on it.
In the last image we see all the elements of the collages come together. Seymours religious theories come together with a generic and-in this context-sarcastic fortune, mixed with the idea of him literally being worthless, because he has become a dead cat.
The show happened, but I didn't get these prints finished in time. I ended up using my Saint series, and sold none of them. Maybe now that Salinger has passes, it is time to revive these images.