Tobey Parker

untitled (breaktime), 2021

acrylic on canvas, 24x36in

wow she's just like me, 2021

acrylic on canvas, 24x36in

live from @seraphworld, 2021

acrylic on canvas, 24x36in

note-to-self, 2022

acrylic on canvas cut outs, holographic paper, on canvas panel, 18x24in

love cloud 9, 2022

acrylic on canvas cut outs, holographic paper, on canvas, 16x20in

my memory is tangible, 2020

acrylic on canvas, 18x24in

Artist Statement

Individuals change habits, expressions, and language based on their immediate environment. Popular culture mascots, though, have faces of fixed expressions-masks. Mascots might be considered, therefore, as a metaphor for the public faces we wear. I am interested in using consumer culture as source material in paintings that infuse the pop-art canon with expressive brushwork and ideas about code switching and identity. My exploration of mascots relates to soft power and kawaii culture to represent marginalized identities. My work consists of large-scale recreations of mascot-centered fancy goods such as stickers, memo paper, and figurines- a type of product becomes ‘fancy’ once a mascot or adornment is added to it. My work borrows conventions from product design and commercial art. Including paintings which are in conversation with illustration-specifically from Asia like anime. Moments of humor, self-reflection, and capitalist critique are embedded using text and the mascots. “Mascotification” is explored in narrative paintings which chronicle the lives of workers employed to portray mascots. Mascotification refers to a reductive process which entails distilling oneself down to the most necessary portions with the result of commodifying a likeness. Navigating public spaces as a marginalized person may mean presenting yourself in different ways depending on who surrounds you. The narrative paintings speak to this dilemma of difference between public and private forms of identity. The characters Sera, Mimi, Badi, and Puffy represent common archetypes of mascot design; the human, the cat, the dog, and the indiscernible creature which seem to be an amalgamation of cute features. They are inhabitants of “Seraph World,” a place which functions as both a brand name and the space where the limitations of cuteness are observed. The works reference products using advertising aesthetics complete with branding logos at the bottom corner of the canvas like a signature reading: “Seraph World Ⓒ 2000 TP”.