Distortions in the New Aesthetic: A studio visit with Cassandra Zook

Written by Kristopher Wright | info@odessadenver.com  


Cassandra Zook is an emerging painter, photographer, and social justice advocate. Born in a small town in Kansas, Cassie now lives and works in Denver, Colorado where she recently received her BFA from the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design.

Cassie first fell in love with the process of making art and its unique ability to address social issues in high school. After exhibiting her work locally and at Kansas University, the scope of her practice began to shift.

Cassandra Zook BFA Show Piece
 “…for me, it became so much less about the heavy social-political kind of activism, and more about how art can foster an ongoing dialogue…”

Zook’s current body of work investigates the physicality of painting as well as the representation of the human body throughout art history. A self-proclaimed artist of “The New Aesthetic”, she utilizes glitch programming to dismantle the once idealized human figures of Neo-Classical and Greco-Roman sculpture.

Cassandra Zook Painting Palette
“This is a conversation about ‘where did this imagery come from?’, ‘what have we been trained to see?’, and what does it mean now?…”

Cassie’s paintings, many of which are larger than life, are beginning to ignite this dialogue. Bodies are censored, rearranged, recolored, and diffused. Where fluid drapery of Neo-Classic sculpture once demanded the viewer’s admiration and attention, pixelated stripes of foreign color now take center stage. Faces are broken, arms have lost their hands, twisting torsos have been denied their aesthetic romanticism.

One could argue that, in this digital age, the human body is more free than ever of the confines of tradition and the ideal, but it could also be said that this digital age of filtration is helping to accelerate this phenomenon.

One thing is certain. In contemporary life, a time when we have so much ability to cut, copy, clip, and paste ourselves as we see fit, Cassie’s work wrestles with one of the great questions known to humanity: “does the idealism of the human body empower or imprison?” Perhaps it’s simply a matter of who’s doing the editing.

Cassie's studio is currently located at 40 W studios, in Lakewood, Co. Learn more about Cassie here , and follow her work on Instagram here.