Twisted Metal Artist Statement

My artist statement for the Twisted Metal show. Originally opened as part of TCNJ’s “4×4: The Debut Student Art Exhibition Series”.  It ran April 6-12 2010 in the new TCNJ art building (

America’s history is deeply routed with automobiles. Since Henry Ford’s Model T revolutionized the automotive industry, vehicles have become more and more popular with Americans. In 2003, America had 1.2 automobiles for every licensed driver. There are few events in our lives as emotionally powerful as car accidents. 2008 saw 5.8 Million reported traffic accidents. A small lapse of judgment behind the wheel can cause people great financial trouble, great emotional harm, and great bodily harm. The memory of these car accidents stay with us long after most other effects fade away.

Countless artists try to depict the emotions of our car culture with pretty pictures of drive ins, or ultra cropped paintings of flashy badges and emblems, but most overlook the great emotional impact of depicting the accidents. Also, often overlooked is the beauty that automotive collisions can create.

A piece of metal that was created with purposeful lines and curves is now reconfigured violently with an opposing force. Beyond the “Oh no, how can we fix this?” lies the true beauty in the collision. The new uninvited crunches, bends, and folds each catch the light in a new, different way. The cracked paint reveals exposed metal which rusts and adds new color to the composition. Holes and rips expose the hidden underworkings and structure of the vehicle. Something we may have looked static for years has rapidly changed form.

I strive to show the aftermath of these events, by painting some of these subjects, creating some new effects on existing metal, and even using “found” objects. I want to not only stir up some of the powerful emotions from past events, but showcase the beauty, and sometimes irony in them.

‘Jim Tramontano



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