Processing the Ideal: A series of paintings that challenges the “American Dream”

Nick Peña is a visual artist and Associate Professor of Art at Christian Brothers University, located in Memphis, Tennessee. At the heart of his work is a series of juxtapositions between past and present, representation and abstraction, the American Dream and our environment, and in the end, stability and instability.

Processing the Ideal is a series of paintings that attempts to question the meaning of the “American Dream” and the affects that pursuit has on our psyche and our environment.

The pursuit of happiness as a subject led Peña to focus on and examine perceived structures (i.e. religious and secular, scientific, natural, economic, familial) and how although the idea of these structures are presumed ‘fundamentally sound’, society constantly struggles to define and redefine what those structures look like in an increasingly fragmented society. Discover more at

Via direct submission | All images courtesy of Nick Peña


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