Jennifer Bates

Jennifer Bates

Cedar Falls, IA


In contrast, the compositions of (seemingly) common people, or Dreamers, contain humanity and evoke empathy and connection. Several questions were posed to each individual including, “What are your dreams for your life?” and “What are your dreams for your home country?” Many shared dreams in common with one another and presumably with much of their audience. It is in this way that the Dreamers series of portraits underscore how inextricably linked humanity is. Through the use of photographs and text, the compositions of the Dreamers are embedded with the elements of their dreams to visually tell their story. 


Artist Statement

“Dictators & Dreamers” investigates infamy, the ripple effects of power, human rights issues, and dreams of the (seemingly) common person. This body of work contrasts the faces of current or recent absolute rulers of countries around the world with the faces of immigrants, refugees, international students, and asylum seekers now residing in the Cedar Valley. The Dictator is infamous. Dreamers are often anonymous. Now, they hold equal attention.

David Wallechinsky of Parade Magazine categorized living dictators into a hierarchy of awfulness, a Top 10 List of the “World’s Worst Dictators.” It’s the veritable “Who’s Who” of the rape, pillage, and plunder community. The Dictators are inspired by these lists. The compositions of the Dictators are formally tasteful and conceptually offensive. Historical patterns fill the backgrounds to create “decorative” portraits, stripping the Dictators of their self-importance. The color palettes and textures are harmonious and even enticing. Yet, each piece portrays someone or something that is unjust, oppressive, and just plain ugly.

Jennifer Bates, Joshua, 2022, Oil, inkjet, and fabric on board, 26" x 32" x 2.5"