Jonathan Santoro


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Always Chasing Rainbows


Moore College of Art and Design, November 14, 2020 - January 09, 2021

In the evergreen American fairytale The Wizard of Oz, the nostalgic yearning for home resounds as a primary theme. Like any good classic, The Wizard of Oz is woven deeply into our cultural consciousness and acts as a reflector of societal values—as well as its blemishes. Beyond its surface-level presentation of loyal friendship, self-actualization, and the virtues of home, The Wizard of Oz presents sublimated themes of American exceptionalism, frontierism, and the omnipresent threat of surveillance and control. 

In reexamining the franchise through the lens of both personal and cultural memory, Always Chasing Rainbows transformed Dorothy’s oddly-matched companions into an assortment of visual misnomers and objects associated with suburban lawn décor, property protection, and spectated punishment. The Galleries at Moore’s Race Street window becomes both a voyeuristic stage and a security arena.

Always Chasing Rainbows uses The Wizard of Oz as a vehicle to examine a bygone American dream, to explore ideas around nostalgia as both a sickness and a symptom of an increasingly fervent nationalism, spectacle, surveillance capitalism, and dysfunctional familial relationships wherein even love becomes a tool of control.


Always Chasing Rainbows (installation shot), Mixed Media, 2020.


Always Chasing Rainbows (installation shot), Mixed media, 2020. Photo by Joseph Hu


Doghouse, Shipboard, painted plywood, MDF, Master padlock, dog-bowl, Plexiglas, 2020. Photo by Joseph Hu.


Please be Courteous, Screen print on aluminum, 2020.


Pick-up bags. Pigmented and cast urethane plastic, 2019.


Nightlight (detail). Painted plywood and pine, Plexiglas, Simplisafe sticker, tube lighting, oak, 2020. Photo by Joseph Hu.


Benevolent Patriarch 1 (Scarecrow). Cast urethane plastic, cast and painted urethane foam, painted plywood, steel, aluminum, misc. hardware, 2019-2020.


Benevolent Patriarch 1 (Scarecrow) (detail).


Benevolent Patriarch 1 (Scarecrow) (detail).


Stairs (detail), painted plywood and Masonite, 2020


Benevolent Patriarch 3 (Lion). Cast urethane plastic, Cast and pigmented silicone, 2020. Photo by Joseph Hu.


Benevolent Patriarch 2 (Tin Man). Forged and hammered steel, heart combination lock, cast and pigmented, 2020.


Benevolent Patriarch 2 (Tin Man) (detail).


Poppies. Cast and pigmented RTV rubber and wire, 2020. Edition of 10.