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How Do Art and Culture Intersect?

Updated: Sep 1, 2023

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Image of artist KAWS standing among his work with his hands covering his eyes

In this week’s conversation, Shelsea and I ask the question “How do Art and Culture Intersect?” To guide our conversation we looked to contemporary artist, KAWS. Recently I went to the Brooklyn Museum of Art where KAWS had much of his life’s work on display.

There I encountered COMPANION, the piece you see above. KAWS took Mickey Mouse and transformed him into this robotic, somewhat dystopian cartoon character. I fell in love immediately. I loved how he was taking this Disney character and showing a darker part of life. COMPANION is often depicted in various emotional states. Here is one that particularly resonated with me.

Sculpture of a seated mouse with its hands covering its eyes in an art gallery

I think there is something so beautiful about taking a character like Mickey Mouse and creating balance. To me, Mickey Mouse represents unrelenting positivity and COMPANION brings out the sadness and darkness that resides in our hearts or in our culture. What I see in COMPANION is a reflection of the digital age. How our online lives can leave us feeling isolated and disconnected from those around us. I also see it as a representation of depression and when the color has been drained from our lives. It feels so refreshing to have cartoon characters not only be about childhood and adolescence (i.e. Adventure Time) or adulthood shenanigans (i.e. Family Guy). I appreciate the aspect of the human experience that KAWS is attempting to capture. And there is so much more to his work.

Check out our video as we dive much deeper into the question “How do Art and Culture Intersect?”


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