A LITTLE BLUE PILL/TWO MEN
*Two Strangers. One Pill. A haunting body of work.
written MALCOLM THOMAS
There is nothing quite as powerful as the art of collaboration. Unless perhaps, it’s prescription drugs. Meet Roxy. Full name: Roxicodone. The little blue pill that you’ll never take home to mother. The opiate of choice for an adolescent prep school kid in Houston, who once moonlighted as a YouTube influencer and stylist for celebrity rappers. Preston Douglas has since gone on to become a menswear designer, outfitting the likes of Travis Scott and debuting a collection at New York Fashion Week.
Ten years his senior, Tyler Swanner, a multimedia artist, was going through his own struggle. His diagnosis of advanced glaucoma, a degenerative eye disease that can ultimately lead to blindness, had Swanner thinking about his own habits and vices. Prescribed drugs, rituals, medicines and his partaking in illegal substances all became fair game. The result— a body of unedited work that is both personal and eerily relevant. In 2016, 2.4 million Americans were reported to have an opioid use disorder. A large majority of abusers ranging from 12 to 17 years of age and some even as young as 1 year old, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“Tyler and I met just two months ago, and I knew from the moment we started talking that we would be friends. It was like talking to my future self,” said Douglas. “He just moved back from Los Angeles, and I had just gotten back from staying in New York for a while, so I invited him over to my studio to see what I had been working on. We ended up talking for almost three hours,” he continued.
Douglas’ A Love Letter to Roxy series, a collection of gestural abstractions, low-life motifs and internet-derived collages seemed to hit the perfect note to Swanner’s series. A drug that had once lead a young Douglas to steal a Lamborghini with his drug dealer and to finding vicarious satisfaction in watching National Geographic’s Hillbilly Heroin documentary in withdrawal. But in his artist statement he emphasizes, “Despite the title, this body of work does not aim to romanticize this part of Preston’s life. Rather it serves as a daily reminder to himself of the pain that comes from loving that little blue pill, and as a mechanism of gratitude for escaping her crushing grip. One day at a time.”
A Little Pill artwork available for sale, for inquiries e-mail: email@example.com
film Chris McElroy
© copyright + courtesy Tyler Swanner + Preston Douglas