A look at Nick Gentry’s paintings offers insight not only into the bold and soulful faces he paints, but of the stories locked in his medium. By salvaging discarded media storage ranging from floppy disks to VHS tapes for his canvas, Gentry emphasizes that not unlike oral tradition, pieces of stories are often lost as we transition from one generation of storage to the next.
Gentry assembles obsolete tech materials into a workable canvas for his portraits, letting the shape and labels of the floppies peek through the painting to give character to the faces he paints. The writing on the labels are often left readable, provoking the viewer to wonder about the information trapped within.
While we can’t deny the convenience and security that has come with massive hard-drives and severs, you can’t help but think of how many anecdotes have been lost when trading in one seemingly sufficient innovation for the next. And on a more nostalgic level, how likely future generations will casually call up a document or image on a CD the way we filter through yellowed love letters and family photo albums. The final sentiments may vary, but one thing is certain, Gentry’s paintings are breathing new ideas and a renewed purpose into things that we thought belonged in the trash.