Artist Jason Sparr Puts His HOPES on Display

Audience gathers at Jason Sparr's Art Gallery

Samantha McMullen

Student Jason Sparr, an Art Major at UCSB, proudly displayed his art last November in the Art Department’s Gallery 1434. Between the hours of four and six the soothing voice of Billie Holiday was heard coming from the large, white walled room that became Jason’s dream for the evening. The title of his gallery was “Hope,” and the theme became obvious as I explored his creations.

“Your Daughter,” an oil painting of a young woman posing in red lingerie on a chair is one work of a series that Sparr is working on.  The series presents both men and women, from all walks of life, who sell themselves on online websites such as the ever popular Craigslist.  The details of the girl’s face are blurred as to give the viewers the freedom of imagination to make the model virtually anyone. Sparr explains that, “, for a small fee of 10 dollars, an individual can place an ad online for the whole world to enjoy a photograph of them. and similar websites are making it easily possible for people of all ages, including underage teenagers, to become a part of this dangerous circle.” Another painting in this series is a self portrait called “Selling Myself” that shows the artists flexing like oh so many Abercrombie and Finch Models. Both of these paintings are bordered with the format of either an iPhone or a computer monitor screen to suggest the theme further. Sparr says that many people have came to him angered about the work in this series but he defends himself by saying, “I am simply putting my works out there and relying on the people to help bring change.”

A piece that seemed to sum up Jason’s political views was “UN-UNITED.” This woodcarving shows his thoughts about human existence through a visual timeline. Three planks of wood tell the story of society today in a hieroglyphic fashion. Sparr described his piece to me and said, “I feel that society as a whole is being held down by those leading us. Whether it is through the media or word of mouth, people are being raised to be afraid of each other. Those leading us do not want the people to have unity for we will then have the power. When one tries to bring unity to the people, that person is usually assassinated– this is addressed in my wood carving. The piece ends with a new chapter of a new hope of human civilization after a war ends the prior.” This story, painted simply for all to see, shows the truths of humanity in a way many do not want to recognize.

A pair of glasses sitting on a stand seems to have a weird prescription when picked up. A nearby sign told the curious viewers that the glasses are meant to be worn. The lenses are actual dollar bills, but when they are put on, nothing can be seen. The viewer is literally blinded by money. This shows how money feeds the greedy until they see nothing else. It is a sad lesson, but one that many never learn.

Sparr’s art, whether seen on canvas, wood, paper or glasses, shows the viewer a look through his soft eyes. His work shows talent and experience in diverse mediums and an ability to experiment with different forms of art. His dream of being a great art teacher in Los Angeles will, I think, soon come true. His hope for the rest of the world, however, is not a reality that can come about through one man alone. Sparr’s gallery stresses society’s downfalls, sins and regrets, but he also gives the world room to grow, room to change. One may ask, what is hope? Well, after experiencing this inspired man’s art, I would say that hope is knowing what needs to be changed and being brave enough to change it.