This year, Saugatuck Center for the Arts is host to the highly anticipated 2024 iteration of Mr. Society of 23. Based on the competitive sport of beauty pageants, Michigan-based artist Jeffrey Augustine Songco takes audiences on a behind the scenes tour of the annual event through the media of photography, video, performance, and installation art. From rehearsals and preparation to the evening’s final coronation, the exhibition captures the physical labor and emotional rollercoaster of the contestants enduring the spectacle of pageantry for the title and pride of Mr. Society of 23. Created in 2008, the Society of 23 is a mysterious brotherhood of 23 gentlemen all portrayed by the artist himself. By multiplying his body and placing his ‘selves’ into familiar interior spaces, Jeffrey creates theatrical and intimate scenes of human behavior and ritualistic events that display the complexity of self-portraiture and the construction of a society itself.
Jeffrey Augustine Songco (b. 1983) is a multidisciplinary artist. Born and raised in New Jersey to devout Catholic Filipino immigrants, his artistic identity developed at a young age with training in classical ballet, voice, and musical theater. He holds a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University and an MFA from San Francisco Art Institute. Jeffrey’s work has been displayed around the country as well as appearing in art publications.
Creative hands-on programming is available for learners of all ages inspired by, and working with, artist Jeffrey Augustine Songco. Students can work directly with Jeffrey with both in-classroom and fieldtrip programming; but students aren’t the only ones getting creative. Behind the scenes experiences, specially curated dinners with Jeffrey and Chef Mindy Trafman, and so much more are also available for adults this fall + winter!