Artworks on display through Sept. 13 at Lawrence Arts Center
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When you post photographs of yourself and your friends on Facebook, you never really know where they might show up.
For a year, artist and filmmaker John Sebelius gathered images from public Facebook profiles — mainly of University of Kansas students involved in fraternities and sororities — and used them as inspiration for his “Do You Know Who My Father Is?!” exhibition on display at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 New Hampshire St., in Lawrence.
The exhibit uses video, paintings, printmaking and sculpture to explore the issues of identity, sexuality, invincibility and youthful debauchery.
“I use large Instagram dimensions and an over-the-top palette,” Sebelius said.
Among the paintings’ images are two young women eating watermelon, a group of young men wearing only their underwear and a party scene. One of the installations uses cardboard beer cartons to help create its form. A video shows rotating Facebook images.
“I have no connection with these people, so I could make up my own narrative,” he said.
Sebelius creates his paintings through a constant reworking process, where he builds up layers of oil paint and then starts removing them. The imagery for the work is created through a drawing and sanding process. He also incorporates spray painting into his creations.
Sebelius said the title of the exhibition isn’t related to his personal life. He is the son of Kathleen Sebelius, former U.S. Department of Health and Human Services secretary and former Kansas governor, and U.S. Magistrate Judge K. Gary Sebelius.
The title, he said, was inspired by an incident at a Lawrence bar when a barkeep tried to curb the drinking of a young man who had been “overserved.” The angry young man shot back, “Do you know who my father is?”
“It was the first thing out of his mouth,” he said. “It pokes fun at the sense of entitlement.”
Sebelius said the exhibition isn’t making a statement about Greek life, and he hopes KU students in fraternities and sororities and others visit the exhibition to see his work firsthand.
“If they’re talking about it, then I consider that a success,” he said.
Sebelius earned a bachelor’s degree in illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2006 and a master’s degree in drawing and painting from The University of Kansas in 2012.
His work has been featured in Harper’s, DETAILS and The Washington Post and has been seen on CNN and “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” He has shown his works at Gallery Two in Sydney, Australia; Woods-Gerry Gallery in Providence, R.I.; Kansas City Artists Coalition; School of Art Institute of Chicago; Vermont Studio Center; and Gonzo Museum in Aspen, Colo.
Sebelius gained national attention in 2008 when “Don’t Drop the Soap,” a prison-themed board game designed as a 2006 class project while he was at the Rhode Island School of Design, went on sale.
He also is a fashion designer who created the Gillius Inc. clothing line, which features apparel on which he has drawn and painted. His films, “Welcome to Slab City USA” and “Searching at Sturgis,” have screened at various film festivals.
Sebelius’ next projects include expanding and showing “Do You Know Who My Father Is?!” at other venues and taking “Find Me a Man,” a documentary about a widow finding love in the second part of her life, to film festivals.
For more information about Sebelius, go to his website at www.johnsebelius.com.