Off the Wall Art & Technology Judge: Deborah Dismuke
Deborah Dismuke graduated from Maryland Institute College of Art with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Illustration and Design. In addition, she has a Multimedia Design Certificate from Northern Virginia Community College. She has worked with the federal government as a longtime CIA officer, and has worked for BAE systems, General Dynamics Information Technology, and Northrop Grumman for 15 years. Deborah is the only CIA employee, the first woman, and the only African American with a painting in the CIA’s Intelligence Art Collection at their headquarters in Langley, VA. She painted pieces depicting images of Cold War and the “Argo” Operation. In addition to her time as a CIA officer, Deborah held positions as a multimedia developer, multimedia and graphic designer, learning technologist, and an instructor.
Art & Technology
This category includes 3-d prints and digital designs (works primarily created with computer software). As part of their submission, students are required to also submit a separate journal statement explaining their artwork and their process when creating it.
This piece is rather based on myself, especially in the past few months. What I really wanted to demonstrate through this piece is how unfulfilling and unsatisfactory it is to be on technology all the time. I chose to display this using two figures: The one on the left representing technology, and the one on the right representing the person addicted. They are connected via hand-holding, similarly to how one would be attached to their phone. I wanted the girl to look unkempt and tired. Staring at a screen for so long isn’t good for the eyes, which is why she has great eye bags. She has been so distracted by social media and the internet that she’s become something of a slob; only wearing pajamas, not taking care of her skin, and allowing her natural hair colour to start growing back in. But despite all of this time she’s been connected to the internet, and how much she’s devoted to it, she is not happy. This devotion is completely unfulfilling. I wanted this idea to be shown through the background. I used the typical nutrition facts that are found on food packaging to represent how technology affects a person. Every number is zero, because this kind of addiction doesn’t add anything to anyone’s life. It’s not good for you, being completely mindless consumption. It goes straight through a person and wastes all their time, but people still spend hours online despite that. This is why the girl is so disheveled. I wanted to show the extremeness of this addiction as well, by having the circuit pattern going up her arm, similar to how drug addiction is performed. The technology figure is rather simple. It’s just representative of all types of technology; phone, computer, tablet, etc. with all of it’s wires and metal and the screen head. On the girl I wrote the words “Feed Me”, and on the screen head figure I wrote the response of, “I Am”. I chose this in order to represent how, despite the time the girl has spent on various technology, she’s still hungry for more and hasn’t had her fill of this mindless content. The screen head just tells her that she’s getting fed, she’s getting the content that she’s looking for but it’s not going to fill her up. Finally, Behind the nutrition facts, I chose for the background to be black in order to represent a void. The consumption of this media goes into an endless abyss and it will never be full. I finished this piece rather fast after brainstorming for a few days. Ever since around August I’ve been having a rough time and have become pretty technology-dependent, but I know it’s not healthy for me. I wanted to show this struggle I’ve been having versus technology.
My family is from El Salvador. Throughout my childhood, I grew up enveloped in a blanket of culture – music, food, parties – you name it. I watched the adults round me socialize and admired their actions – specifically my mother. She’s a single immigrant mother, who abandoned her country during a time of war to pursue a better future for herself in the United States. My mother was the only one with enough willpower to flee her country. She was alone in a foreign place with a language she couldn’t understand. She raised two kids on her own – my older brother and I – while working multiple jobs at a time. She was my biggest role model as a child, and now as I am on the brink of adulthood, she is still the strongest woman I know.
This piece is meant to capture the spirit of an immigrant and their drive to succeed. The background resembles the vibrant shades of violet and red that are cast across the sky in Latin America as the sun sets. I intended for the viewer to feel warm while viewing this piece, like the glow of the sun. The warm background is an immigrant’s heart – hopeful and determined. The subject is framed in banana leaves, which symbolize the culture of immigrants and serve as a reminder of their tropical climate. Branches are sprawled out behind the leaves to symbolize the generations that have come before each immigrant and the legacy that will be left behind by each person. Latinos tend to remember family members that have long passed through verbal stories. The branches also symbolize this ability to keep the family legacy alive infinitely. Even though immigrants leave their homeland in hopes of a better future, their culture forever follows them and is spread wherever they go. In a way, their traditions are their footprints. The subject is a prime example of a hardworking immigrant – my mother. The portrait is based off an old photo she had on her passport that she used to become a U.S. citizen. Her eyes emanated this will to fly and to be free. Her eyes almost looked longing, as if she knew what opportunities awaited her across the border. I painted her in grayscale to compare past and present immigrants. Latinos have crossed the border for the same reason, even across the span of decades – hope. Even as time passes, their drive to succeed, despite difficult circumstances, motives Latinos to make the journey all the way to the United States in order to have a chance at achieving prosperity. That determination can still be seen today in the Salad Bowl that is the United States.
In my life as a young black man, raised by a single mother, I have always seen the true strength of women I have encountered. All my life as an artist I have never been able to truly communicate the strength of the women I have drawn. In this piece I really wanted to focus on portraying that strength of women in detail. From her posing, to the simple background that allows the focus to be drawn to her, I made sure everything about the woman would show her strength. I wanted her pose to illustrate freedom and firm standing. I used Wacom One drawing tablet and Adobe Photoshop to create this piece. It took about 5 hours to complete start to finish. I used multiple different layers to make sure all elements of the piece had great craftsmanship. Overall, I am happy with the outcome of this piece and feel it is a powerful way of using art and technology.