Good evening, students. My name is Arthur Henderson, and I am an artist. Ergo I am here tonight to talk to you about art. Specifically, and for the purpose of example and education, my art.
What does it mean to be an artist? Well, like any good master of their craft—doctor, chef, teacher—“Artist” is a title to hold dear, and with honor, because it is a representation of the years a person puts into honing and perfecting their craft.
For me, as a true artist, my work is about the joy, and the thrill of creating. To show to the world your unique inspiration, made manifest on canvas. I wake up each day knowing that hundreds, thousands, perhaps millions of people will see my work. What drives you as an artist is the goal to reach that day. That day when you know in your heart you have created a masterpiece.
That day, when my most esteemed patrons came to me asking for a work that would become the very symbol of their enterprise, I knew that this would be my greatest achievement. Like a spark of divine guidance, through my hands that which I already knew was there became manifest on paper. It was that day I knew I had finally achieved my calling. My greatest work: the angry mouse graphic for the Northwest Exterminating Service Advertising Department.
Oh, “Angry Mouse.” Not since the great Walt Disney has one spark of creativity in the form of a small rodent led to the dawn of a cultural revolution. Not a person in this great city has felt untouched by its presence, its stolid, unrepentant gaze seeing over all across billboards and commuter buses. Van Gogh sold but one painting in his tortured career, whereas I am assured that a depiction of my furious-fisted avatar of the suburban psyche will be presented to every citizen of the city of Atlanta and greater parts of Tennessee, lovingly rendered on page 437 of the phone book to which their home receives by government post.
With inspiration comes derivation. Take as example Picasso’s infamous “Blue Period” or the subtle, suggestive focus of Georgia O’Keeffe’s flower paintings. I, too, saw the original mouse as a stepping stone for what could be a further artistic examination of American society. I had here the art in its purest form—raw, blatant, easy to print on business cards. I chose to holiday in the Southern regions, experiencing the art and spirit of Mexico and its gradual influence in Mestizo work through the 19th and 20th centuries. With that spark inside me I was able to produce my next great work: “Angry Mouse With Sombrero and Moustache.” While this one only appeared to the public for a few short weeks, I was told by the sales department that its market influence was, quote, “impactful.”
But art is also about making a message. We must force ourselves to challenge our own conventions, and question the nature of our society. I felt a responsibility to look at the struggle in a class other than my own, and comment on it through my art. With the blessings of my benefactors at Northwest Exterminating, I took a bold risk and attempted a piece with an urban flavor outside my own comfort zone.
In retrospect, “Angry Mouse with Gold Chain and Reference to Sir Mix-A-Lot Song” did not achieve the cultural mending I had hoped to convey. But it is said that the best art can come through adversity. There was a need to find more meaning in my creations—something that could reach into the soul of the American spirit.
When you look upon your own accomplishments you constantly ponder internally, “what is art?” On that historic day when I doodled a small mouse on a napkin while waiting for my pumpkin spiced latte, I knew it was when I realized that I had actually depicted the very struggle of man against nature. I knew then that this would be my path—to constantly move forward and embody the American homeowner’s endless war against the invasion of pestilence and filth. “Angry Mouse” was the spirit of our country, an inspired paean to the 20th century American revival aesthetic. And with my most recent inspiration, “Angry Mouse Saluting Dead Soldiers in an Online Advertisement,” I present that spirit in its most raw form.
In conclusion, students, I shall be sketching crude angry cartoon mice outside your university’s cafeteria for twenty American dollars not fifteen minutes from now. I would very much like to purchase bus fare home. I thank you.
All images in this posted created by and © Northwest Exterminating, and, yes, are 100% real.