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Fort Wayne, American Monologue

Artist Brett Amory’s work examines the American Dream

By Eddie Torres

Fort Wayne Reader


Last November, visitors to the Fort Wayne Museum of Art got the opportunity to see a new installation take shape right before their eyes.

Oakland-based artist Brett Amory basically “set up shop” in one of the galleries at the FWMoA, constructing his multi-piece Fort Wayne, American Monologue show in full view of anyone who wanted to watch.

Amory’s new work (cruated the the FWMoA by Josef Zimmerman) is based on the people and places in Fort Wayne. The work challenges what it means to be an “All-American City” and the notion of the American Dream, the idea of resiliency, and the concepts of civic failure and success. A train station serves as a reminder of the robust Industrial Revolution, but the fact that it is abandoned reminds us of the de-industrialization of the 1980s. Abandoned buildings and foreclosures illustrate the housing bubble of the mid- to late 2000s that forced people to let go of their homes. However, the number of churches in Fort Wayne shows a town steeped in faith. Through all of the booms and busts, Fort Wayne serves as an illustration of a city — like many in the United States — determined to overcome and thrive. His sculptural use of colorful flowers growing beside a “For Sale By Owner” sign, for example, highlights the determination to rise above negative circumstances and surmount difficult odds.

Amory also continues to explore his ideas of past, present, and future, and how we relate to our surroundings; our internal dialogue and how it is presented to the world – a monologue. How is a monologue interpreted by those around us, in our house, library, theater, museum, or church? How do we relate to our own community, and how do others relate to us? Amory’s frequent use of flattened perspective serves in part to raise questions about societal perspective and perception. He challenges audiences to reevaluate change, redemption, opportunities, growth, the representation of people and places, the “good” and the “bad,” from churches to outlaws.

Amory’s illustration American Dream, his largest to date, utilizes black, white, and gray to cast a shadow on the very notion of the American Dream. Many of us will remember how the American Dream and 1950s post-war optimism were characterized by television shows such as Father Knows Best and Leave it to Beaver, both epitomizing the superficial nature of what we tell ourselves embodies the American Dream. The juxtaposition of Amory’s installation and paintings, combined with his use of symbolism, serves to ignite conversation about memories, community, and separation. Fort Wayne, American Monologue examines how past cultural decisions have shaped the present, and how present decisions will influence the future of our communities.

Fort Wayne, American Monologue
Fort Wayne Museum of Art
311 East Main Street
Show runs through February 26

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©2018 Fort Wayne Reader. All rights Reserved.