Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Manifestations from the black mirror

Courtesy of John McFadden

John McFadden presents the art that lives in social media.


By combining his personal social media timeline, cell phone photography and online advertising amongst other sources, John Mcfadden manifests his thoughts using vinyl lettering, digital banners and lots of gold streamers.

The work is “centered on connection, be it between imagery, text, found and mass-produced objects, I seek to create narrative contingencies by linking information,” McFadden said.

His exhibition, “Doesn’t Have a Clue” debuts on Thursday, Feb. 1, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Terminal 136.

McFadden is currently an assistant professor of printmaking, at the University of Kentucky. A Texas State University graduate with a BFA in printmaking, and a BA in French, he later received his MFA in printmaking from Edinburgh College of Art in the UK.

As a Houston native, McFadden is very conscious of the space that he uses. “I design each of my installations to be specific to the space I’m showing it in, so while I may recycle imagery and text, I won’t present it in the exact same way in my next exhibition. The work is something that is constantly in flux and I think it makes each exhibition more of an experience… overall, the gallery creates an experience versus a space where you would walk from one piece to another,” he said.

This copy and the art is largely taken from and influenced by social media posts, cell phone photography and online advertising, to name a few.

“From the sourced information, look for connections between the objects and information seeking out what is real and a facsimile.” So while social media is a continuous stream of snapshots into people’s lives, McFadden searches for something deeper, and uses what he finds on his social media accounts in his installations. For instance, the title of the Exhibition comes from a comment that McFadden saw on Facebook.

Initially, McFadden used imagery and text from news articles that he found on Facebook. McFadden then expanded on this, rather than just using articles found on Facebook, he started to use people’s comments on Facebook in regard to the articles.

According to McFadden, “it was a natural progression to then start using peoples comments to the posts and then looking at posts made to different groups including myneighborhood association’s Facebook page.”

His inspiration is digital output we organically create. He draws from “social media, especially the comment culture that exists on Facebook and Twitter. I (even) keep a folder on my computer full of screenshots of posts, comments, and imagery that I think might work in an installation or print.”

“Doesn’t Have a Clue” will be available for viewing, hashtagging, and boomeranging until Feb. 17.

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