John Westmark’s mixed media paintings focus on the metaphorical potential of unorthodox materials. The primary material used to create his work is store-bought paper sewing patterns applied directly to the canvas.
The Flight Series pieces reinterpret the patterns outside of their usual functional context as garment templates to represent the engineered schematics of aeronautical machine. The notion of flight and the relationship between faith and technology is the dominant conveyance: what was once a garment pattern is now a stand in for an object suspended in space.
John has expanded his investigation of the pattern material to include the Folklore Series and his most recent Double Bind Series.
The Folklore Series explores the alignment of the material with a literary conceptual narrative of myth and fable, in particular, the Brothers Grimm and Southern folklore. As a garment is made through the assembly of parts cut from sewing patterns, likewise, myths and fables are a kind of fabric cut from human experience. The imprinted sewing instructions are in themselves a narrative that supports the visual presentation of a fantastical, literary narrative. The viewer is asked to read both the material and the conveyed story.
John’s most recent paintings, the Double Bind Series, present both a material and conceptual narrative by embellishing the garment patterns’ imprinted language of assembly with custom text from contemporary feminist writing and criticism. This added textual narrative disrupts the nostalgic or stereotypical notion of “women’s work” and admits an aggressive feminist dialog into the visual conversation. The viewer is asked to read both the material and the conveyed story. The women depicted in the paintings are no doubt fearless, independent and scandalous.
Westmark’s work has been exhibited widely and is held in collections worldwide, including Collectors Contemporary, Singapore; the Council on Foreign Relations, Washington, DC; the Frederick R. Weisman Foundation in Los Angeles, and the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Omaha, NE. John was recently featured in New American Paintings (Summer, 2010), and has been selected for the Vermont Studio Center Artist-in-Residence for the summer of 2011, and is a 2011 Pollock-Krasner Grantee. John received an MFA from the University of Florida and a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute. He presently works and lives in Gainesville, Florida.