Topsy Turvy Too original art by Tennessee Loveless
ABOUT the 10 x 10 x 10 project:
Tennessee Loveless is a Los Angeles based contemporary pop artist whose bold use of color and pattern evokes an immediate visual impact to the viewer, but also creates a poetic irony when one considers the fact that Loveless has colorblindness—almost complete colorblindness. Despite many obstacles throughout his life and career he has persevered in pursuing his career as an artist. He is driven by his passion for painting people and iconic fictional characters in a way that strikes an emotional and nostalgic connection through the power of the one thing he is blind to.
As a child growing up in Marietta, Georgia, Tennessee watched his peers identify and collect information based on this “invisible force” that people called color. He began to work within two worlds, one that operated within his own vision and perception and the other which he created in his attempts to relate to the rest of the world. This disconnect later ruptured a fascination with the unknown and he began to feverishly occupy his mind with the fundamental understanding of a chromatic world.
Tennessee’s inability to distinguish most hues has never swayed him from creating art. If any thing, his disconnect from this in his early years made him obsessed with the forming of patterns, objects and shapes. He became attracted to the destruction of white space and became captivated with the idea of filling anything lacking in form with pattern. Later in life, he began attaching color to his subjects as he learned in color theory books which hues complimented or contrasted each other appropriately.
He also communicates hue choices through an objective and synesthetic nature. The essence of his work is largely dedicated to the emotional pull and story telling element of color, expression, and pattern, and mostly importantly, the crossing of the senses
Tennessee’s newest project, entitled 10x10x10 (or Ten by Ten by Ten(nessee)) is based off of the classic “Mickey Mouse” face. The concept is to create 100 unique creations based off of one classic Mickey Mouse template. While the face stays the same, the art changes. This project is about a pop art journey, exploring the history of the icon, and finding oneself underneath.
ABOUT: Topsy Turvy Too original art by Tennessee Loveless in his own words:
Disorientation is the feeling I experience the most in regards to “The Human Condition Series”. I’ve been confused for a large portion of my life as understanding and keeping the information of things learned has always slipped my grasp as a kid. My brain had the hardest time retaining facts and information when I was young, and I always felt like I was spinning in this upside down spiraling void whenever asked to repeat, recite, or simply remember anything.
I used to think that inside everyone’s body was a house. Inside your feet were the basement and rec room, the legs were the study and exercise rooms, the stomach was the kitchen and dining room, the chest was the living room, and the brain was your own bedroom of sorts. Everyday I’d walk around staring at people trying to figure out what their house looked like from the inside, and automatically would associate their personality to the state of their house. The wacky would have funky houses, the prim and proper would have cookie cutter duplexes, and sad and disheveled would have empty and lost rooms awaiting furniture.
Looking inside my own self, I imagined that all the furniture was on the ceiling, and that magazines, coffee cups, and random flotsam and jetsam floated about the room with no gravity, aimlessly clinking into each other with no means of ever settling. All the paintings were backwards, and everything was in a consistent state of how I liked to describe to people as “upside-down-ness”. I suppose this was some kind of coping mechanism to relate to the world that I had attention deficit hyperactive disorder, and had severe learning disabilities in both math and science.
When teachers would ask “Why can’t you understand this?” or “Why aren’t you retaining this information”, I could only reply that everything in my head was “Topsy Turvy”, and/or more specifically “That none of my furniture is on the floor in my head”, to which would promptly get me sent to the school shrink for my metaphors (which was common). I think for a lot of my life growing up in the microcosm of the school system in Georgia, my ability to relate to people on an educational level, let alone, a social level, was met with great obstacles, due to my inability to retain information. I was always in this state of confusion due to the mass amount of information being fed to me on a daily basis. In essence my imagination was a deterrent to me understanding anything, and therefore became my worst enemy.
With that being said, I was always “TOPSY TURVY”.
I was heavily insecure about this, even after being retested in my senior year and being rebranded as intelligent, heck.. EVEN after becoming an algebra tutor to my peers in college. .. I still had this lingering aftertaste of being inadequate and slow to the world. That feeling of confusion, being overwhelmed, backwards, upside-down.. still floated around softly in my skull tepidly whispering its potential of return. Occasionally in my late twenties and thirties working in business/corporate, I’d be reminded of its ghost, and I’d give it little refuge for establishing itself in my head.
It wasn’t until I fully realized that this confusion, this disorientation, … was more of a sensation from stifling my imagination and creative abilities. When I was discovered as an artist, my ideas emptied out of my head like a burst dam. .. YEARS AND YEARS of dreaming, thinking, drawing, sketching, … previous actions which were hinderances to my learning development, were suddenly rewarded by my quirky and weird thought processes. I wasn’t a failure. I wasn’t slow. In fact, there was nothing wrong with me at all. I just happened to be a human being meant for different things, things that required different thought patterns and different approaches. I was an artist. That was really it in the end.
This piece is called “Topsy Turvy Too”--I had created the first piece, with Mickey's mouth upside down, and Disney went a little nuts about the lack of consistency in the piece. My challenge was to do the piece again, maintain "Mickey On Model"--(ie keep him like he normally is) but still convey the essential mainframe to confusion.
The POINT is, for some of us, a backwards feeling can be quite unsettling, BUT for us creative folks, the idea of changing things around… thinking outside the box, and putting the ‘triangle peg in the square shape” … can be the very RARE quality that makes us catalysts for others to dream, think beyond the scope, and ultimately see and create beautiful things.