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Sandow Birk, the 2009 Artist-in-Residence at Fullerton College, was raised in Southern California. He is an internationally renowned artist whose work deals unflinchingly and satirically with problems of contemporary American life, like gangs, inner cities, riots, the Iraq war, terrorism, prisons, and consumption. Several books and two films have been made of Birk's work, which often is a mash-up of art history and contemporary themes. His exhibit at the Fulleton College Art Gallery was a retrospective entitled "Death, War, and Deceit." During his tenure as Artist-in-Residence, Birk screened his films, gave talks, and demonstrations to students about his methods and inspiration.
His books include In Smog and Thunder : Historical works from The Great War of the Californias which depicts a fictional war between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and Dante's Divine Comedy, in which Birk takes the epic Italian poem about Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise and transplants it into contemporary America.
Birk is currently working on a project called "American Qu'ran.” in which he is hand-transcribing the entire Qur'an with relevant scenes from contemporary American life. Five years in the making, the project has been inspired by a decade of extended travel in Islamic regions of the world and undertaken after extensive research.
"Birk is unafraid to engage the ugly truths of our time and ranks among the more sharply satiric artists of our era.”
—Art ltd. Magazine
“I want to make works about our times and about the world. I'm continually interested in how making things by hand in the very slow, painstaking processes of centuries ago can still be relevant in the world today — the world of iPhones and YouTube. It's an odd thing, being a painter, it's anachronistic.”
“The war series is about the ongoing war in Iraq, but in a larger sense it's about warfare itself, about the eternalness of warfare and the eternal awfulness of warfare, easily seen from Callot's work 400 years ago through Goya's 200 years ago, and now to our times and our own wars.”
“The Quran project is about the Quran and about daily life in America, about how the text of the Quran — unfamiliar to the vast majority of Americans — can be understood in relation to our lives.”
“Artist-In-Residence: Sandow Birk.” Fullerton College Fine Arts Division. www.fcfinearts.fullcoll.edu
Birk, Sandow. “Biography”. Sandow Birk’s Web Site. www.sandowbirk.com
Row, D.K. “Interview: Sandow Birk on the Iraq War and Beyond.” The Oregonian. 5 November 2009. www.oregonlive.com
“Artist-in-Residence Sandow Birk.” nolable721. www.flickr.com. Mar.16.2009