In my current paintings, I apply store-bought paper sewing patterns directly to the canvas. To represent figurative imagery, I reinterpret the patterns outside their usual functional context as garment templates. In this way, I work to shape a narrative that references fable, myth, and 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.
Making paintings in the above fashion, I ask three central questions: Is our memory of stories from youth in jeopardy of fading or losing its relation to modern life? Is quickening technological advancement altering the relevance of stories and fables woven through our childhood? Are there therapeutic or harmful effects from these changes?
The story invoked in these paintings allows each viewer to “read” the surface. Patterns and templates are the genesis of assembly; once they are realized, they are tucked away or discarded. These paintings expose and liberate the pattern to become something to keep. It is my hope that the patterns convey a high-tech, engineered language that contradicts the practical or narrowly utilitarian nature of garment making.
John Westmark was born in Brewton, AL, and spent his childhood doodling during long Southern Baptist sermons. After earning his BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute, he spent fifteen years as a graphic designer and painter before undertaking his graduate studies at the University of Florida. His work has been exhibited widely and held in collections worldwide. He has been featured in New American Paintings and is a Florida Individual Artist Fellowship recipient. His paintings have been bought recently by the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, DC, and the Frederick R. Weisman Foundation in Los Angeles, CA. He currently lives and works in Gainesville, FL.
This slideshow was selected by contributing art editor Mike Shankman.