Art is an experience. It’s cliché – but it is. It’s an experience of the individual viewing it. And so, I’m going to start this artist profile selfishly. I’m not going to claim anything objective about the artist or his work, but how I, as a person, experience the collages crafted by Witt Fetter.
I have an unhealthy obsession with juxtaposing patterns. Cartoon t-shirts with printed pants and solid colored blazers overwhelm my clothing selection. There’s something beautiful about wearing leopard print on stripes on American flag print. There’s something dramatic about it, something inherently inexplicable. And it is this obsession with which I write this profile, with which I realize I have no words to describe Witt Fetter’s art.
I fear I will not do the artist justice. I’m using mere words to describe something I don’t understand, something I love because I don’t understand it. In Fetter’s work, there’s an intrinsic intuitive quality, something simultaneously chaotic yet organized – nostalgic yet new, something no one really fathoms. While he’s creating these collages in the suave orange-toned lighting of his room, Fetter’s eyes widen in his visual obsession with his materials. He fixates – making an object the center of his existence, juxtaposing disparate themes but blending their visual compatibility.
The question: “what does it mean?” only hinders Fetter’s graphic collages. To be honest, I don’t know. I don’t think anyone knows what it means. What is the objective? The interpretation? The symbolism? The commentary? Truly, it can be anything. The joy of Witt’s art isn’t that it’s some high level work of genius but rather that it is a type of internet art that reflects the organized chaos of the information age. Covered by modernist minimalism, Fetter unleashes the power of the childhood mind – a sensory overload. He frolics in his images, accidentally producing an open profundity with digital care. It means nothing because it means everything.
But there I go, giving more meaning to something than it needs to hold. At least, this is what I get from Fetter’s collages. As a child reared on watching cartoons and a postmodern, ironic joy of futurism, Witt’s collages speak to me. But I want to be clear. This isn’t some simple objective appraisal of artistic genius, it’s an emotional ecstasy of the visual, of juxtaposition, and of a globalized, hip-hop era world where everything is mixed, remixed, and appropriated. Only in 2014 can spy kids be paired with Kimye, furbies with the Madonna, Katy Perry with L’Oréal children’s shampoo, orange peels with maps, UFOs with sinking deserts, Miley with Atlas, Beyoncé with African masks. Only in Witt Fetter’s art.
Frankly, I don’t get it. I just enjoy it. And so, instead of rambling on the brilliance of Witt Fetter, I only leave you with a few of his collages and a link to his portfolio (that includes works other than collage as well). And instead of trying to describe the witty person, myself, I leave it to him.
Stanford Arts Review: What inspires your collages?
Witt Fetter: I never really know what is going to inspire my work. Usually something that just catches my eye, or that I keep going back to in my mind. With the orange peel collage, I had been staring at a map in my room and I became fixated on the shape of the map, which immediately reminded me of an orange peel.
Where do you get the material for your collages?
A lot of it is derived from pop culture, films that I like, art that I see on the internet. I take a lot of screen shots, which I file away into a folder on my desktop.
My original conception for the piece doesn’t have any narrative or strong message or purpose. I usually just make the piece without thinking very deeply about it. A lot of the times in the end it has a profundity that was not at all intended when I started off. But when you’re making art with Furbies and L’Oréal kids shampoo you really can’t take yourself very seriously. And that’s kind of the point. Because in the end of the day there are some amazing, crazy things (like Furbies) that exist in the world, and the internet has made them all the more accessible and my collages try to celebrate that.