Elevate at 21c presents temporary exhibitions of works by artists living and working in the communities surrounding Nashville. Elevate provides hotel guests with unique access to the work of notable regional artists while featuring their work in the context of 21c’s contemporary art space.
William “Dooby” Tomkins Jr.’s work is inspired by the philosophy and Marxist critical theory, The Society of the Spectacle. Within this text, “spectacle” is identified as the prolific and unstoppable entity of mass media, in which advertisements and marketing inundate daily life. In turn, capitalist societies are essentially controlled by the almighty dollar where wealthy corporations and individuals possess the power to disseminate ideology and images. Written in 1967, author Guy Debord posits a world even more relevant in today’s 24-hour news cycle, social media-obsessed culture: “All that once was directly lived has become mere representation,” explains Debord, arguing that the history of social life can be understood as “the decline of being into having, and having into merely appearing.”
Tomkins Jr.’s work rebels against the speed and force of this “spectacle,” transforming reproducible images from mass media into paintings: “While I believe the spectacle can neither be accepted nor rejected, it must be acknowledged due simply to its overwhelming effect on a new generation,” explains the artist.
William R. “Dooby” Tomkins Jr. earned his degree as a bachelor of fine arts with a concentration in painting and drawing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in May 2005.