Friday, April 19, 2013

Future Bear: Past Imperfect

Rachel Simmons, Associate Professor of Art at Rollins College created Future Bear in 2008 as a means to experiment with combining digital and traditional approaches to imaging making. In part inspired by her focus on art exploring human impact on the environment, Future Bear provides a focal point for artwork inspired by her first to Antarctica. The polar bear, she suggest, acts as a visual symbol for global climate change. This realization prompted Simmons to seek ways to expand the narrative around Future Bear. For her collaborator, Julian C. Chambliss, Associate Professor of History, Future Bear offered an opportunity to explore how superhero comic book characters and the culture linked to them reflect tensions within the U.S. experience over questions of modernity versus tradition. Superheroes in the United States owe much to the anxiety created by urbanization. While many associate superheroes with concerns linked to urban crime, in reality, superhero’s appeal speaks to a wider concern associated with the moral and physical benefits linked to a natural world defined in contrast to the harsh moral and physical environment of the city. These concerns inform the superhero comic in myriad ways and those ideas inform Future Bear’s adventures.