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The Extended Family of Etta Duboff

Los Angeles artist Etta Duboff provides commentary on 21st century popular culture through her celebrity portraits. A product of the sixties and seventies, Etta is clearly influenced by pop art images of celebrity, demonstrating that our society's voracious appetite for that which is hip, young, witty, sexy, gimmicky, clever and glamorous has not changed today, but rather has evolved and secured a stronghold in our consciousness. Beyond the celebrity worship of the eighties and nineties and into full integration into the lives of every day people, Etta's work asserts that celebrity is a cultural value, and knowing celebrities is a way of gaining cultural currency, truth and ultimately, intimacy and a sense of relation.

Etta's images, upon first glance, are clearly influenced by Andy Warhol. However, Etta provides us with a different interpretation. Her portraits allow the viewer to feel a personal, close relationship with the celebrity, reinforcing our culture's incessant and fundamental craving for real connection in an age of supposed inter-connectivity. We follow every aspect of a celebrity's life, and therefore feel we know who these individuals are. As a result, our media machine has become as normal and necessary to us as the air we breathe and the water we drink. Etta's work humanizes celebrities, instead of de-humanizes or distances them from us. She shows us our love and commitment to these individuals, and our personal need for understanding in a society amidst a blizzard of seemingly infinite information and access.

We hang celebrity pictures in our homes, we wear them on our clothes and we listen carefully to their views on the multiplicity of issues facing humanity today. As a result, we feel a sense of familial connection with them as both our lives unfold. Celebrities have become our aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws or-in essence-our extended family.

Etta's work shows us that celebrity lives mirror human success and failure, and serve as catalysts for new ideas and creativity-good or bad. By abandoning the commercial production techniques employed by pop artists in the sixties and seventies and embracing rich oils and vibrant, warm hues, Etta tells us that our society has moved beyond celebrity as a "brand" in favor of a deeper, more fulfilling relationship… the celebrity as an individual, a concept that forms the bedrock of the American value system. She portrays our celebrities not only as larger than life, but also-alive-with strengths, vulnerabilities, successes, failures and distinction. She shows us true celebrity is no longer modular or mass produced, but rather forged and requires a flair for originality and character. She presents us with people who have risen, fallen and then risen again, with the depth and persistence to insist upon their place in our past, present and future history.