Fear Culture, USA: Art at HFU

Michael Amato, a recent graduate from University of Connecticut, puts his emotions into his photography in the form of political commentaries that give meaning to the photographs. His work has been featured in magazines and journals internationally. Amato’s art represents the American culture of fear and paranoia, along with concerns about the role of technology in society. The exhibit is supposed to make society think we are always being watched whether it’s by the government or reality TV. 

The art reception for Michael Amato was Wednesday, February 12th, from 12-2pm, in the Holy Family Gallery. The Gallery is located on the lower level of the Education and Technology Center. The exhibit runs from February 7th to the 26th. 

A Machine Shouldn’t Speak For Men, as the exhibit is entitled, included multiple photographs taken by the artist of an ordinary American life, including a series of headlines displayed on televisions. The news contain past and ongoing events being broadcasted on the televisions of happy American dream homes. The televisions in the photographs display breaking news–that of the Ebola outbreak or a missile launch that almost attacked Hawaii. The happy American dream home represents the ‘50s and ‘60s imagery because it’s styled after Michael’s own grandmother’s home. It’s described as welcoming, giving the impression that somebody’s making cookies and families are entertaining each other by telling old stories. 

Amato was excited about the opening event for his photo gallery. He started out as an English major freshman year at the University of Connecticut, but he then saw a documentary called Chasing Ice. The documentary was about glaciers and ice caps melting with science and imagery. When Amato saw the documentary, a light bulb went off in his head that he didn’t want to be a writer anymore, but instead he wanted to pursue his dream of photography. 

Speaking about one of his first photographs of the collection, Amato recalled that the perfect image he had in his head was one of his grandma’s living room. He described the room as “Representing the happy home that is welcoming and warm that you can spend time with family. Not something that’s necessarily supposed to be toxic, but my grandmother would be listening to the news when my family came over. Her attitude, the way that she responded, and the way she acted with me would be very different if we watched something like baseball.” His grandmother’s reaction to the news is where Amato got his idea for focusing on paranoia within American media.

Amato’s purpose is to show how the constant, twenty-four-hour news of threats has an enduring effect on our perspective. The exhibit shows that as a society we aren’t as aware of our surroundings as we think we are.

At the event, the energy was calming and, quite honestly, delightful. The photographs on the walls were lined up ideally to represent the broadcasting of media in common spaces: living rooms, diners, and hospital waiting rooms.

Spectators were obviously pleased to see photographs; some were even noticeably grinning in response. The photographs were unique and stood out compared to paintings or sculptures because his exhibit’s theme is not something that we see everyday. The art was a interesting surprise to the audience because in our daily lives we keep up with the news, but are we really paying attention to it fully? As individuals, we don’t actively participate in the happenings of the news, so the exhibit is something to think about in our daily lives.

Kelsey Stock, a freshman at HFU, stated, “When I was staring at the different photos, I felt like I was there, at that moment. Each photo told a different story.” Kelsey explained that the art captured our ordinary life, and the collection made her feel more aware of her surroundings.

The event was organized by the Coordinator of Fine Art, Pamela Flynn. Amato’s photographs are available for auction until the last day of the exhibit. 

For additional info about the artist, click the link below:

By Carissa Dea, a first-year Nursing Student.