Marty Hardin, artist

June 1963, Forest City North Carolina, USA

Troy, New York, USA

BFA, East Carolina University, School of Art & Design – Concentration: Painting

Artist statement:
I have spent the past 30 years working in advertising as a art director and creative director, along with emerging media as well as film and television production. Along the way, my visual arts background has fueled my work in the corporate world. And likewise, my client work has informed my artistic work (mostly in film and video).

Now I am returning to the visual arts with a greater understanding of impact of the visual dialog the artist has with the viewer and with a greater sense of purpose in my role in creating that dialog. Rather than focusing on one medium, I am working across four with a unique focus in each.

Digital Print
I am currently exploring themes of manufactured celebrity in the post-war, Eisenhower era through the Nixon era. Themes of conformity, role models and gender archetypes play out in dense layers. Halftone patterns, saturated colors and repetition of images speak to the manufacture of carefully managed and crafted image that echoes themes we are seeing played out today in the celebrity culture of the social and mass media in our current “cult of celebrity.”

I am drawing inspiration from early theater, Victorian imagery, vintage erotica, classic clowns, visual illusion and vintage arcade games to explore the process of romance, gender identity, courtship and love. Nothing is as it appears. We are constantly creating facades while operating against our own strategies to achieve our goals. What we fail to realize is that we are subjected to the same strategies and goals from our intended. Otherwise known as “fun and games.” And like theater, nothing is neat. Surfaces are flawed, crude and roughly hewn – but from a distance the illusion remains intact, dazzling and complete.


Documentary work
I have always been inspired by the photojournalism of the 1970s in that the work went from straightforward images to a deeper dive in developing the emotional underpinnings that created the narrative for the viewer. In my photographic work, my goal is to share my sense of reality, and to create my narrative for the viewer. I want to guide the viewer directly to my point of view and to help them understand where I find the beauty or tragedy in a given instant in that unique time and place.

Street work
My ultimate goal is to be invisible to my subjects. In order to achieve that goal, I shoot blind. I walk the street firing the camera from my waist in the general direction of my scene – with the subject usually in the very corner of my field of vision. I do everything possible to avoid the photographer’s  “I’m taking a picture” stance. The result is that my subjects have no idea they are being photographed. This leaves them to be caught in their own un-posed and unguarded world. Couple that shooting style with my serendipity of the “guessed” composition, and I find that I am creating images I never would have imagined.

Film and Video:
Time, movement and sound, while obvious, are what first drew me to the moving image as an art form. I work to exploit each of these components by creating elements of visually implied time through repetition and dense layers of images and sounds with the intention of leaving the viewer bordering on the edge of experience, cognition and memory. Conversely, I will let the camera run for long periods of time on what first appears to be a completely static shot. It’s only in the longer observation of a scene that the subtleties of the underlying complexity of movement emerge. Leaves blowing, water flowing, or a small car moving across a vast landscape – all are moments that are invisible in the day to day of life, but are amplified at 24 frames per second when we stop and look.

Major influences:
Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, James Rosenquist, Roy Lichtenstein, Jeff Koons, Diane Arbus, Annie Leibovitz, Joseph Cornell, Ray Elmore and Clarence Morgan

For the past 30 plus years, I’ve been an advertising professional. To view my portfolio of work for hire, please visit my website, or to review my advertising profile, please visit LinkedIn.