Location: United States
Since the events of 2016, Rich Sheaffer has been developing a genre of art he calls Socio-Political Abstractionism. While political art is common, it has generally taken the form of such things as cartoons and caricatures. Socio-Political Abstractionism, in contrast, is an art form in which hot-button social topics being divisively debated in the political milieu are “abstractionized” and expressed via painting in abstract form, to inspire thought and discussion. Such works are primitive expressions of dreams or visions that express the events and angst of our time in history. His works are experimental and inspired by current events; he never knows from the onset how the final work will appear. Topics covered by Rich have included societal fear and anger, climate change, human rights, assaults against diversity, truth versus “alternative facts”, degradation of kindness and compassion, migration issues, attacks against democracy, risks of conflict and war, self-created chaos and so on.
Before art became his passion, much of Rich Sheaffer’s prior career in engineering and management was rather mundane. The exceptions were when he did not follow conventional wisdom and explored on his own without necessarily doing things the accepted, “correct” way. That is when breakthroughs occur, discoveries are made and quantum improvements can be initiated. It is with that spirit that Rich creates art by inspiration and imagination rather than more conventional rules of how art should be created. Rich’s works reflect the angst of a common man regarding events occurring in society, and some of his works have also predicted future events. When events are so outrageous that he is left with a loss for words ... he paints. Rich is active with the Artists Guild of the San Diego Museum of Art, the Artist Alliance of the Oceanside Museum of Art and others. More information on Rich’s background, portfolio and the art of Socio-Political Abstractionism can be found at www.RichSheaffer.com.
Socio-Political Abstractionism is a type of abstract expressionism in which hot-button social topics being divisively debated in the political milieu are “abstractionized” and expressed via painting in abstract form, to inspire thought, discussion and debate. Most such work would have little to no meaning to a viewer without explanation of the inspiration, which can be found at www.RichSheaffer.com/portfolio.
Our country has become so fragmented, with state-against-state, neighbor-against-neighbor, and the current Supreme Court against the prior Supreme Courts. So many people take their firm political stance with an “I’m right and you’re wrong” attitude without an appreciation for the points-of-view of others. What was once the United States has become the Divided States, represented by the red-and-black dotted grid separating the 50 teardrops. Has the blue color in our flag (representing vigilance, perseverance and justice) faded as judicial decisions vary from time-to-time depending on the political mood of the court in overturning legal precedents? Do we cry for our country? Do we do anything else to be more kind, respectful and compassionate of one another?
Russia portrays its invasion and attack on Ukraine as a defense against neo-Nazis. Seriously? Are bears really threatened by nightingales, or is it the other way around? Everything in this work is symbolic; please provide your own interpretation.
Following the persistent “alternative facts”, “Pizzagate”, “Q” and other conspiracy theories, the incendiary rhetoric, the incitement to anarchy, rioting and violence, the U.S. Capitol was attacked on January 6 to disrupt the democratic process as Congress met to affirm the winner of the 2020 election.
This work was conceived in a dream that night and conceptually developed on January 7, with less than two weeks to go before the inauguration of the next President. The artist questioned, iIn that time, and even after the inauguration, would “Scorched Earth” ideas be strategized, and or would it stop with the attack on the Capitol? Alternative interpretations are encouraged.
Te artist also questions the attitude of the voters. Do they see the President as one who serves the people, or do they see the country as a prize to be awarded to the winner of the election, and the President as one who is to be served by the people?
To convey these issues via art, the artist covred a plywood representation of the USA in many colors of oil paint. The colors represent the diversity of our people and landscapes, while oil paint will burn when blasted with a blowtorch, which is exactly what the artist did to produce this work.
“A gold medal is a wonderful thing, but if you’re not enough without it, you’ll never be enough with it.” (regarding cheating to win, from the movie “Cool Runnings”). In that light, the artist questions if a candidate feels that he is not enough without winning yet another election, then how many followers would support a rebellion and what fate ultimately awaits the country? What happens the next time a candidate loses an election and claims it is “the crime of the century” without any facts or evidence?
Inspired by the Georgia runoff election on January 5, 2021, “What a Difference a State Makes” reflects that the U.S. Senate, and the course of history, has been changed, merely by flipping one state from red (Republican) to blue (Democratic). The title “What a Difference a State Makes” was inspired by the hit song “What a Difference a Day Makes”. It begins thusly:
What a difference a day makes, twenty-four little hours, Brought the sun and the flowers, where there used to be rain.
This work is the resultant mash-up of the song and the Georgia election results. A color-changing acrylic paint was used for the State of Georgia, so that the state “flips” from a rusty red to a vivid blue, depending on the point of view of the viewer, or it could flip back to red again. As viewed from the far right, the state still looks red. Some will always see it this way, and will never accept the election result that flipped the state to blue. So as the viewer, do you see the sun and the flowers when Georgia flips from red to blue, or back to red again? Both views are shown in the image.
According to news reports, at a meeting held on December 14, 2017 in Atlanta, the administration’s list of seven terms that were not to be used (or at least to be avoided) in the upcoming Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) budget were conveyed; the seven terms included “vulnerable”, “entitlement”, “diversity”, “transgender”, “fetus”, “evidence-based” and “science-based.” This work, “Dare to Say ‘Diversity’”, encourages that we all (even government employees) speak freely about diversity and against hate, value one another as each being unique, stand up against authoritarianism, and dance together as if we were colors on a canvas.