Stefanie Matza

BFA in Art & Design

Manufacturing a Consumer Culture Through Materialism and Consumerism

With my work, I offer a critique of materialism and consumerism by examining the interplay of unfettered consumption, social hierarchy, and unrelenting advertising. Consumerism and advertising manipulate the ideas of well-being and happiness, blurring the line between needs and wants. For example, Scrooge McDuck, a greedy and covetous Walt Disney character, is never satisfied with what he has- he always wants more. Employing Scrooge McDucks’ character traits, I use highly prized goods such as Kanye Wests’ Yeezys, Virgil Abloh’s Off-White sweatshirt, a Louis Vuitton hat and Hermes boxes. I represent wealth and money using symbolic dollar signs and represent social hierarchy by composing different elements within the piece. My work intensifies, heightens, and exaggerates, for visual impact, the consumer culture we create and reproduce. This consumer culture has a debilitating effect on society and our physical and mental well-being. Now, more than ever, due to the world pandemic of COVID-19, people may realize that materialism and consumerism should not define our consumer culture.

In this piece, Scrooge McDuck is standing on a stacked pile of Hermes Boxes. He is spray painting the brick wall behind him of cash and lyrics to world famous singer and rapper Cardi B’s hit song Money stating “All I really need is the money.” The spray painted lyrics represents songs in the world today that symbolize money is everything. “As the song’s title implies, the lyrics mainly see Cardi rapping about money. She talks about the insane wealth she has created for herself and the glittering lifestyle it has brought her. And despite the great fortune she has at her disposal, she still raps about wanting more in the song.” 4 These lyrics go hand and hand with my idea of materialism and consumerism; the unsatisfied feeling and the crave to always want more. The stacked Hermes boxes represents the fantasized hierarchy we strive to reach. The buildup of Hermes boxes represents class, money and upper echelon.

In my 48” x 48” painting, “All I See Are Dollar Signs,” stands Scrooge McDuck, once again climbing on a “hierarchy” ladder, only focusing on the dollar signs that lays on the ground below him. Chaos is represented by a repetitive pattern of shapes on the right side of the painting- the area that has no dollar signs. We see that Scrooge has dismissed the world around him due to the fact that he is only focusing on the symbolic dollar sign. Famous artist, Rhianna delivered a song to the world “Pour it Up” in 2013 using lyrics that classify her wealth and uses lyrics such as all she sees “are dollar signs,” influencing the title of my painting.

I used a consumerist item, Grey Poupon, that became the condiment of choice by popular artists that dates back to the 1980’s. After the medias advertisements in the 1900’s of using an upper echelon to depict the mustard, the message carried on. One artist, Kanye West releases a song called Facts in 2016 with lyrics “ poupon on a DJ Mustard, ah!” Here, we see Kanye West using luxury with Grey Poupon. I decided to use a “luxury” mustard for my 42” x 25” inch painting- a modernized version of Andy Warhols’ Campbell Soup, one of the most famous Pop Art pieces of all time. A famous artist using a consumerist product released evidence that there was an immense increase in Campbell Soup sales. This acts like the media portraying Grey Poupon and the connections it has to class. All in which concludes the constant evolution of manufacturing a consumer culture. To enhance minor details that further exploit Grey Poupon as a luxury item and using pop art irony and comic, I changed the original label “Made With White Wine” on each Poupon bottle to “Made With___” and filling the blank with a “high class” ingredient, such as caviar.

Home page of my website for my COVID-19 apparel.

Shop page.

Description on Blog page. Description of proceeds to the CDC Foundation.


Example of sweatshirt design

Example of T-Shirt design

Example of sweatshirt design