Every fall, sophomore students in John Ferry's Color & Space class take on the daunting task of creating a 4x4 foot self-portrait. Each portrait, made up of roughly 2300 individually painted squares, comes together over the course of 8-16 weeks throughout the semester. Students create the portraits using oil; for many of them it's the first time they've created a piece this large and it's the first time they've painted in oil. Here are just a few of the wonderful pieces that are popping up within the studio. It's always fun to see these come together!
John Ferry, our beloved professor has a new show opening Friday, November 14th. Disintegration will feature 27 pieces, and is at the Lawrence Arts Center at 940 New Hampshire Street in Lawrence, Kansas. John works in oil and typically at a small scale.
He paints similar scenes repeatedly, leveraging his technical fluency to invigorate an image of, say, a street in Decatur Illinois, or a distant view of the Manhattan Bridge when it is painted for the dozenth time. His work focuses on the material quality of the paint and the ways that an painting can modulate between an industrial or architectural vista on one hand and a delicately labored object, a record of thousands of strokes, scrapes and layers of oil on the other.
JF: I paint what I know. All my scenes are from my home-town or other places I've lived and observed daily. I find it a challenge to paint the same scene multiple times and be able to bring something fresh to it each time.
Given that so much emphasis in the work is on texture and the object hood of the painting, the work gains immensely from being seen in person. So go out and see his show (really though.)
JF: I thought I was going to be in the larger gallery so I was afraid that the 27 paintings I'm displaying were still not going to be enough to fill it sufficiently. When I found out it was in the smaller gallery, I knew the show would look fine. It's always a great learning opportunity to see your work displayed. And when it's in such a beautiful and well cared for space, it always helps bring a kind of closure to the process.
The small size gives more weight to the detail and character of his paintings, and also adds to the strength of the work's presentation; when I've had the opportunity to see John's work in person, it feels more akin to reading a series of love letters - the work is so small, it demands a real kind of intimacy, a one on one interaction with the piece that is too often forgone in contemporary art. John's work is not trying to dazzle you with gimmicks, nor is it didactic, trying to communicate any heavy handed conceptual idea. What his work is, is honest, rich and deeply personal.
JF: I try to put together a solid group of work which is usually inclusive of a theme(s) of work that show well together. I show the strongest work I have at the time. I adhere to Niles Spencer's philosophy when displaying work. He said, "I don't let a painting leave my studio until I don't know how to make it any better."
Disintegration will be on exhibit at the Lawrence Arts Center November 14, 2014 - January 3, 2015 with an opening reception on Friday, November 21, 2014 from 5-7 pm and an artist talk on Wednesday, December 3, 2014 at 7 pm.
Post written by Jacob Canyon Robinson