Whether nature imitates art or art imitates nature is often a hot topic in aesthetics. Without debating the topic, it is clear that nature attracted artists writers and musicians of all stripes. All the arts’ viewers or listeners or readers encounter efforts to be naturalistic or to follow a school of Naturalism or to comment on or take inspiration from nature.
In our time developments in the sciences have affected our views of nature and geo-political issues such as global warming and world resources have pushed writers, artists, and musicians to revisit some of the old questions. As local potter Javi Fox notes – an artist is not only an artist but also a citizen and a human being. Javi puts his own story as a citizen like this – I am concerned about what is lost when we remove the natural world from our lives and value a sanitized way of life that is mainly concerned with convenience.
My research investigates cultures of the Americas – such as Native America that for centuries lived in close-knit communities with deeply held core values concerning harmony and balance with the natural world. I compel the viewer to think about what these cultures might teach us about the way we distribute and use natural resources.
One of the ways in which my work operates is to highlight the importance of the processes of natural restoration. In the few remaining environments where there is no human intervention nature restores itself. However, in most places that regenerative process is interrupted by human interactions that place responsibility on something else.
My hope is to make art that contributes to a deeper appreciation and awareness of the consequences of our culture. Javi’s concerns are shared by other creators found on this site. See Don Welch and Doreen Pfost with their writings about nature. Many other paintings and poems found here draw art and nature together as subject or inspiration.
An artist friend (the late Patricia Norman, MONA has a handful of her works in the permanent collection) once asked me what motivated me to be so productive. She thought that I was so prolific. That question still resonates with me as I continue to search for the answer.
Initially, my response was, well, it is because I am an artist. It’s what I do. But I don’t think that is all of it.
I was trained to be an art educator, K-12, with a BA and MAEd in Art Education. The Elements and Principles of Art were pounded into me and reinforced for many years as an adjunct professor at UNK teaching a general studies course in Art Structure. Line, Shape, Form, Color, Texture, Value, Space. It is almost a mantra. As an art educator, it was necessary to know about many different mediums and techniques. I tend to blame my interests in so many different things on the fact that I am an art teacher.
My teaching philosophy changed dramatically after September 11, 2001. It became important to me to find more ways for my students to express their feelings outside of the restrictions of art structures.
I now teach workshops with adults and private groups. I find it very gratifying to help adults find ways to tap into their feelings, with less worries about making ART and just having fun.
My own work has narrowed down a bit to include watercolor (my first love) and acrylic, works on paper and canvas, bookmaking, collage, mixed media, found object assemblage, art journaling, and mandala making. I am slowly letting go of all the bins of supplies no longer needed for teaching in the classroom.
Back to the answer to the initial question: I work in all these different media because I am interested in so many things, because I perhaps have a short attention span, and because I also think that making art helps to manage my anxiety. And because I am an artist. It is what I do.
Written by Javier Fox and Pat Wiederspan Jones, Artists
* Grant Reynard, "Gallery Discussion." The Museum of Nebraska Art celebrates the history of Nebraska’s visual art for diverse audiences.
* MONA collects, preserves, researches, exhibits, and interprets the work of artists who were born, lived, trained, or worked in Nebraska or who created artworks that reflect the culture of Nebraska
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