Overview of Exhibition
This annual exhibition is designed to represent the most adventurous work being made by emerging artists living and working in East Tennessee.
This year’s exhibition features Artist John Douglas Powers. Drawing from areas as diverse as natural history, architecture and the history of technology, John Douglas Powers investigates the intersection of cinema, engineering, computation, music and physical space. By employing motion and sound in his work, he incorporates the passage of time as a compositional element in an attempt to examine abstract and often intangible topics such as memory, thought, emotion, and language.
John Powers (1978)
Marble and feathers
90 x 24 x 8 inches
Contemporary Focus 2016: John Douglas Powers
May 6-August 7, 2016
John Douglas Powers investigates the intersection of natural history, technology, music, and physical space in the form of intricate kinetic sculptures and atmospheric video projections. By employing motion and sound in his work, he incorporates the passage of time as a compositional element in an attempt to examine abstract and often intangible topics such as memory, thought, emotion, and language.
At the center of the exhibition is a monumental motorized sculpture entitled Locus (2015). At 22 feet in diameter, it is the largest and most ambitious standalone object Powers has produced to date. It consists of several hundred moving parts—some of which are carved from various woods including oak, poplar, and aspen. The rounded form of the sculpture draws inspiration from sources as varied as ancient Etruscan burial mounds and its inner workings recall agrarian machinery that reshaped the rural Indiana landscape of Powers’ youth. Sprouting from its rugged, mechanized base are delicate reed-like elements, whose patterns of movement suggest strands of foliage disturbed by natural currents of wind or water.
Accompanying Locus is one of Powers’ recent video projections, Revenant (2014). As if a portal to another plane, it presents a clouded void whose ethereal character stands in stark contrast to Locus’s sprawling structural framework. The contrast between physically imposing sculptural forms and projected video imagery is central to Powers’ studio practice: “Solid, tangible materials of construction are in distinct counterpoint to the ephemerality of movement, sound, and time. Implicit in both objects and images is the thin divide between everythingness and nothingness.” Although Revenant’s imagery implies absence, the video’s title offers the promise of return and a reconnection to the past.
Contemporary Focus recognizes, supports, and documents the development of contemporary art in East Tennessee. Launched in 2009, this KMA-organized exhibition series features the work of artists who are living and making art in this region, and exploring issues relevant to the larger world of contemporary art.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
John Douglas Powers was born in Frankfort, Indiana in 1978. His sculptural work has been exhibited nationally at venues including the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, MIT Museum, Mariana Kistler Beach Museum of Art at Kansas State University, Huntsville Museum of Art, Wiregrass Museum of Art, Alexander Brest Museum, Masur Museum, Gadsden Museum of Art, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, Brenda Taylor Gallery, Georgia Museum of Art, Vero Beach Museum of Art and Cue Art Foundation. His videos and animations have been screened internationally.
Powers studied art history at Vanderbilt University and earned his MFA in sculpture, with distinction, at the University of Georgia. His work has been featured in The New York Times, World Sculpture News, Sculpture Magazine, Art Forum, The Huffington Post, Art in America, and The Boston Globe, and on CBS News Sunday Morning. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Virginia A. Groot Foundation Award, Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Grant, and Southeastern College Art Conference Individual Artist Fellowship. Powers currently lives and works in Knoxville and is Assistant Professor of Sculpture at The University of Tennessee.