Shawn Huckins has set out to explore the new American Frontier—the Internet. Using historical paintings and photography from the 19th Century, including images of Native Americans, Abraham Lincoln, and Civil War heroes, Huckins recreates classic works for the 21st Century. He transposes the language of Facebook, Twitter, and texting onto his replicated paintings, folding history upon itself in hilarious juxtapositions for a series called "The American __tier."
"The frontier was conceived through an exchange of a few well-formed ideas communicated in person and by handwritten letters," Huckins writes in his artist's statement. "Imagine what Lewis & Clark could have done with the Internet while exploring the American West."
Huckins explains that he usually starts with a painting, meticulously copying historical works. He then places his text over the finished canvas, picking from a collection of found tweets. His work addresses the evolution of communication, from families on the frontier who wouldn't hear from relatives for weeks on end to the instantaneous interaction of a text message. It also speaks to the evolution of language, elevating words like "selfie" and "LOL." Huckins asks, "If Lewis & Clark could comment today, would they click the ‘like’ button, or post ‘wtf?’ and then go check their Miley Cyrus tweet?"
Check out the artist's clever creations in our Portfolio Review: Shawn Huckins Discusses His 19th Century American Painting Memes.