My brothers and I were a trio of explorers discovering new worlds, cloistered in our basement, inches away from the TV, faces cast in intense neon hues. Video games were our vessel, but we were not escaping. We were adding new planes of existence to the model of the universe that sat in our heads. I poured over the game manuals, filling the gaps in my knowledge through hand-drawn illustrations of vistas, creatures, and maps. The more I’ve thought back on these memories, the more I’ve realized that it was the pieces of art included in these manuals, on the covers of science fiction books, and in comics, that truly held the sense of mystery that kept me wanting to discover and imagine more. This gravitational pull towards what is unknown and what is outside of our own sphere of typical human experience is why I make art.
Curiosity and imagination are important human traits and are the foundation of our ability to manifest alternate futures. Using an ever-evolving series of formal experiments that encourage exploration on both the part of the viewer and myself, my work invites us to view ourselves with a wider lense and incites our innate attraction towards what is unknown and what could be. It emerges from the rift between my desire for the human race to do better, learn more, explore further, and persist against myriad possible premature endings, and the sinking feeling that we are not even a positive force in the universe.
I want us to consider how we want to exist as a part of the greater cosmos, and how that relates to how we function and interrelate on Earth. If we continue to fold our attention in on ourselves and escape into digital realms while abusing and neglecting our only home and killing each other out of greed and fear - what then are the moral implications of dispersing throughout the rest of the vastness of space?
Drew Etienne was born in 1984 in Indianapolis, IN. He received his BFA in Painting from Indiana University where he also earned a Harry Engel Painting Scholarship and the Drawing & Painting Area Award. In 2014 he was a recipient of the Indiana Arts Commission’s Individual Artist Grant, and has been commissioned for four public art projects by the City of Bloomington. Most recently he has shown at a group exhibition at Manifest in Cincinnati, and a solo exhibition at the Indianapolis Art Center. He is currently an MA candidate in Painting and Drawing at the University of Iowa.