A Dozen Artists Explore the Definition of Beauty in “Skin Deep”
This body of work by Frank Oriti, Juried Winner in “New American Painters 2012”, Modern Painter’s “Hit List” 2013, and the First Place Winner of 2013 “Cleveland Art’s Prize” examines the culture of America’s class struggle, the many individuals returning to their hometowns, from the military, or failed attempts to escape their original early neighborhoods.
Each portrait reveals the connect and disconnect between disappearing suburban landscapes and their residents, while also presenting questions such as “What has my life become?” Many have lost their family homes and continue to search for the lost “American Ideal”, as they deal with a psychological state of “settling;” an acceptance that they have come back to a place that they will possibly never leave again. Frank’s subtle textured backgrounds offer a visualization of the individual’s attempt to “whiteout” their lost suburban existence, and their longing and all of our searching for and achieving the promised American Dream.
Frank Oriti was born in 1983 and raised in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his B.F.A. in Two-Dimensional Studies from Bowling Green State University in 2006 and returned to his hometown shortly after. For the next year and a half he worked at one of Cleveland’s steel mills and continued painting in his spare time. In the fall of 2008, Oriti headed to Ohio University where he began figure and still life paintings inspired by his past experience in the blue-collar work force. He graduated with his M.F.A. in Painting in 2011. He currently lives and works in Cleveland, Ohio.
Frank Oriti paints blue-collar workers whose opportunities have run out. Primarily men whom the Cleveland-born artist grew up with, his subjects are individuals who attempted to escape their Midwestern suburban hometowns but, despite attending college or entering the military, ended up back where they started. Oriti depicts their moment of return, what he calls their “settling”. Standing against whitewashed backgrounds meant to evoke the uniformity of suburban housing, each subject appears weighted down, either by lack of opportunity or their own disappointment. Rather than look out toward the viewer, their weary expressions are withdrawn, as though they are being pulled backward in time.
American, b. 1983, Cleveland, OH, United States, based in Cleveland, OH, United States