The Millennial Show (and how it flopped)

Ok, I'm about to get really, really real with you folks. I don't often enjoy being this transparent, as admitting defeat or loss feels like I'm "failing" somehow, and I always strive to succeed. I think it's important, however, to acknowledge when something isn't working and to press forward, either making a shift in the work or cutting your losses and moving on.

I created a body of work earlier this year called "The Millennial Show." It has since been renamed "Hooked," so as to be more inclusive, and explain how technology addiction spreads to more than just the Millennial generation. You can view the series here.

I worked hard on these paintings, and I was excited to making something that felt relevant. Snapchat filters? So current! The quilt craze? It's making a comeback, for sure. Athliesure? Yes, please.

All of these elements went into my portrayal of the modern, technology-, trend-driven woman. I was sure it would resonate with my audience, as I usually strive to reflect ideas that are real and honest to my viewers. When the posts of my process were going up on Instagram, I was getting positive feedback for sure!

I was disappointed when the series fell flat during its exhibition with RAW Artists in Washington DC, April 2018. I then took the series to Cafe Nola in Frederick, MD, where it hung for a month. Each time the paintings were displayed, I only sold 2-3 originals. I wouldn't call this a monumental success in the least.

Is it because I haven't reached the right audience? Because I was exhibiting in the "wrong" places (where my demographic wasn't hanging out)? Was it hitting too close to home and nobody wanted to own a piece of art that reminded them that we're all hopelessly addicted to our technology?

Maybe it was all those things. In the end, the best answer I could come up with is this: the audience for which I painted this series didn't have the money to purchase the originals. I was pricing the pieces for $175-$300, not bad for sizeable original framed art, but perhaps more than what was feasible.

I'm venturing out to display it again, this time with a gallery in Baltimore. I love these women that I've created in "Hooked," who so unabashedly gaze from their filtered faces, totally engrossed in their smartphones and houseplants. I made this series because I want to reflect our current culture in 2018. If, sometime in the future, the series would be viewed with an analytical eye, perhaps it would give some insight into who we are this year. Real, honest, raw, and totally obsessed with our technology.

Marni Manning - Artist

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