EXPLORING the world of social media, Coral Spencer’s solo exhibition, Facebooked, is on display at artSPACE Gallery until March 2. As we all know, Facebook is a social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them. Spencer explores this concept by looking at the use of emoticons and the way in which social media have created ways to show emotions using these cartoon images that allow people to create a persona that is not always correct and easy to hide behind.

Tonight chatted to Spencer to learn more about her exhibition and her reasons for basing her work on this concept: “My parents moved around the world so much when I was growing up that I was always losing friends, so I was fascinated when I could find all these people again after all these years on Facebook.

“As an artist, I find I can be quite reclusive and Facebook has made me a little more sociable. With all this said, it’s the fact that one can reinvent ourselves to the ‘world’ of Facebook, create ourselves and present ourselves in ‘snippets’ which represent how we would like to be seen. We can leave out the fact that we are older, shorter, married, etc. and recreate ourselves by omission or tweak the truth.

“I was also fascinated by the use of emoticons (those little smiley faces and other cartoon-represented emotions) that with one press of a button I can tell someone how I am feeling by showing them an emoticon. Our children are born to all this technology, for them it is part of life as they know it.

“For someone born in the 1960s it’s fascinating, kind of like being an alien and landing on another planet. A lot of my work deals with facial expression and emoticons and the fragmentation of our reality as we present it on Facebook.”

Having completed her schooling career in South Africa, the US and Scotland, Spencer has contributed to the world of art. She has had nine solo exhibitions and has been involved in many group and collaborative exhibitions.

“I am an artist who straddles both worlds in art and retains the right to do so. At times a strong commercial influence guides my work and at other times I am able to explore that which I, the individual, an artist in a ‘perfect world’ would do, look deep within and talk about what moves me in art. Of the two arts, one feeds me physically and the other mentally, and neither can do without the other.”

Her preferred medium is oils.

“I love oils. I am a very technical painter and for me oils offers so many ways to paint and experiment that it remains exciting and challenging.

“I find acrylics limiting, like painting in plastic, whereas with oils, the colours are held in suspension in the medium, letting the light through,” she explains.

According to Spencer, people can expect something new and familiar in her exhibition.

• The exhibition runs at artSPACE Durban, 3 Millar Rd (off Umgeni Rd) until March 2. For info, call 031 312 0793.