The Millennials are different from you and me. And one daring young artist is taking the art world by storm the way only her generation would. World Wide Web first, real life to follow.
Meet photographer Elizabeth Waugh, a twenty-something, Brooklyn-based artist, who is shaping a burgeoning career on her own terms, purposefully and with conviction. On October 17, she launches www.TheNewGod.com, a virtual photography exhibition of more than 150 portraits that chronicle Ms. Waugh's fascination with the souls of her own generation. Ms. Waugh's work then moves from the on-line community to real time with a traditional downtown gallery launch the same day (that promises to be anything but traditional) at New York City's hip, hybrid art space, Wallplay.
Ms. Waugh is a philosopher-artist with a cerebral side, who is courting a global audience. "The New God is an invitation for people to consider the fact that they have a soul," offers Laura O'Reilly, Curator of The New God. Indeed, there is a metaphysical quality to her work. Ms. Waugh's project captures images of the Millennial generation with themes stemming from Jungian psychology: conscious, subconscious and superconscious.
From nothing, comes something. Ms. Waugh conceived this project to celebrate the successes of her generation, despite its underdog status. She calls her contemporaries "innovators," who, "starting with nothing, in the middle of a recession, with limited resources," banded together to overcome and prosper. Ms. Waugh opines, "Institutions have not supported (our) traditional growth." Nonetheless, "The Millennial generation has defied convention and (is) creating new enterprises and relationships and ethos. Millennials share ideas and resources to create projects and companies in a community context.... The New God is defining the face of collaborative culture." And it's to this Millennial generation that she pays homage, with her stunning collection of seductive, black and white images adorned with personal narratives from the subjects themselves.
Look at me, know me, see who I am. Although her models are the Instagram, Twitter and Facebook "look at me now" generation of which she is a member, Ms. Waugh selects and interviews her subjects methodically. She studies them for hours, sketches the shoot, curates and then captures, resulting in a series with heart and intellect. The exhibit speaks, and then it answers. Each subject addresses the "Seven Questions" in writing as part of the display: 1. Define "The New God" 2. How do you create reality? 3. What do you live for? What would you die for? 4. How have you broken convention? 5. What new systems of value and exchange are being created around you? 6. What role does community play in your life? 7. How is your generation distinct? The New God brings depth and beauty to a generation that lives out loud. The art world should take notice.
I asked Ms. Waugh her opinion at the conclusion of our interview, "Who or what is the new God?" "The project is the answer to the question," she replied.