Maureen Vachon

My paintings and colored pencil drawings employ parody, satire and caricature to view aspects of contemporary life through the lens of black humor. Specific topics range from America's uneasy relationship with other nations and their political systems, to domestic life, the practice of medicine and Detroit's vermin problem-its bedbugs, feral dogs-even its politicians. The great visual satirist Weegee (aka Arthur Fellig) impresses me with his expressive use of dark values, as does R.F. Outcault (creator of the Yellow Kid) for his inventive combinations of words and pictures. I also credit the influence of Honore Daumier for honing my drawing and painting abilities.

Despite its apparent cheerfulness, I have never thought of my work as especially funny. Its caricatured people and animals are not consistently upbeat. Satirists are complex people with a morose side; since the driving force behind their art is a deep dissatisfaction with the world as it is.

The saddest picture I have ever made is the one many would consider the most silly: "Rise, Weegee, Rise!" The image depicts a crowd watching a life-saving surgery being performed in a nightclub setting, and is a tribute to the late photographer Arthur Fellig, who died of a heart attack in 1968. Fellig earned the nickname Weegee for his uncanny ability to arrive at a crime scene before police. The drawing also expresses my fear that satire has become ineffective in effecting positive social change.