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The Patron Saint of Superheroes

Chris Gavaler Explores the Multiverse of Comics, Pop Culture, and Politics

That’s how an artist friend of mine explained why I select images of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to digitally experiment with. I’ve been exploring the paradoxically freeing limitations of MS Paint by taking images of people and faces and searching for the sweet spot between recognizable resemblance and absolute abstraction. When does an image of AOC stop being an image of AOC? When does it stop being an image of anyone? The values my artist friend meant are the columns of black hair framing her face, including that bright swath of red lipstick. It also helps to begin with a face that most folks across the political spectrum would have to admit is good-looking as I test various kinds of distortions that I hope are good to look at in a very different way. I started these digital experiments with photos of Trump, and they inevitably devolved into multiple kinds of ugliness. AOC is the mirror opposite of Trump, and so maybe a good test subject for discovering whether distortion is by definition ugly.

Here are seven AOC photo illustrations I made since she took office last January:
























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