PORTFOLIO - JOHN SAPPINGTON _rev19 - Journal of Working Images

Teaching Philosophy:

I am a teacher of art and artistic form. I am a teacher of technological form. I am a firm believer in the transcendent nature of art and technology. I am a student devoted to the arts through technology. My primary objective is to over come the inhumane nature of technology and to manipulate its service not toward its own progressive impetus but to the service of humanity as a means to transcend human limitation.
Art and technology have through time propelled and extended human reach beyond the individual. Art and technology have allowed us to improve and progress, to pass on meaning and means, emotion and understanding. I believe current technologies at the service of art will extend that reach.
There is an oppositional nature to teaching art through technology. These fields occupy opposing realms of the human mind both physically and intellectually. It is therefore important to find a way to bridge our use and experience of them. Bridging fields of study requires a flexibility of methodologies.
I am a pragmatist with regard to the process of art making. I am an existentialist when investigating arts meaning. I am a postmodernist in framing an historical context. I am a technologist when articulating a makers methods. And finally an opportunist when encouraging a new student to engage in the process. Ultimately, there is no alternative or equivalent to experience.

Teaching Statement :

I began my educational career studying sociology. When I started art school, French structuralist, post structuralism and linguistic theories were at their peak influence within the arts. Writers like Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida and Jean Baudrillard inform my work where I am attempting to investigate the idea of overlapping systems of meaning within photography and the media context. Concepts such as deconstruction, appropriation are not buzz words to me but are methods of investigation and inquiry.
Still very relevant today, semiotic and linguistic theories overlap in my work and in my teaching. In addition to the formal aspects of making photographs, it is clear that social and cultural issues are just as prescient in contemporary media culture, giving way to a fresh focus on visual literacy and visual studies. With this is mind, I propose a mixed curriculum inclusive of visual and media studies combined with pragmatic technological instruction. This expanded approach offers a fluid and culturally more integrated methodology to understanding contemporary image culture and its making, for students of the visual arts.
The emergence of the internet and the electronic image has exposed the arts to a global audience and to global influence. The mix and the ‘mash-up’ of divergent cultural influences and conceptual interests, is dynamic and inclusive, opening a new dialog in which to teach, learn and create. It seems imperative at this point in time that artists and those mentoring artists engage with these emerging technologies and ideas, as well as create an informed teaching environment inclusive of cultural difference and the important influence of diversity.
Within my fields of study, photography, visual arts, digital media, technology there is an oppositional range of both technical and aesthetic material. This being the case, I feel the challenge is to develop a cohesive approach that builds on the overlaps between these two primary underlying types of information.

My teaching method has been about saturation. I present my students with the broadest historical and theoretical foundation of aesthetic and technological material as possible. From there, my expectations from the students are project-based. I place great value on making work, since there is no substitute or equivalent to process and production. 
My primary objective in teaching is to initiate a process whereby students begin to test the aesthetic and conceptual choices in their own work. This challenge to or formulation of - artistic processes, and methods inspires reinvention and reassessment within my own teaching process. In successful instances there develops a self propelling loop - teacher to student, student to teacher. I’m deeply gratified by the one on one relationship I develop with my students when there is contact made between what I’m teaching and their visceral response.
 Finally, dialog and critique is an integral part of my teaching. It informs the process and provides an opportunity for perspective and reflection. Through the critique process, students learn to verbally articulate their intentions, ideas, choice-making and solutions – as well bring to the fore the underlying conceptual thinking of the work.

Artist Statement:
Play - Photographs, drawings and notations - references and thoughts, cast into a frame and forming relationships. Tools, apparatus and concepts constructed or arranged in a desire to encourage meaning. I teach and create forms and the population or enrichment of those forms.

Technological developments in media must be accounted for and understood.
Historical and theoretical interplay is vital.
Sustained production contributes to maturation of the work and the artist.
Ideas exploit but also shape the forms of media – all media.

The specificity that photography elicits through time, place, point of view, can draw meaningful references into a work, and make for a rich and complex network of relationships. Conceptual and aesthetic meaning is built on this network of relationships. I am not solely concerned with the photographic image but with combining art-making forms such as drawing (illustration), language (performance), text (written word), moving image (video), or sound (audio). Working with these diverse media, I experience a sense of cohesion, as well as a freedom to experiment. I find a greater similarity between these diverse forms than difference, and in this consistency find a sense of freedom to experiment.

Portfolio / Selected Works:

BookWorks 2017-19 :

Drawings from the Anthropocene

European Panoramic

Pano All Types

: 2011-Present

Grasses Collected(grasses collected while running), Series : Spring, Organics 2010-14

Forestville, Utensils 2009-10

John Sappington Forestville, Utensils

"Labor", 2005-2006



"Commuter", 2005-07

on center, 2005-07, 24X78.5, DIGITAL INK JET

on angle 2005-07, 72X24, DIGITAL INK JET,
dandelion, 2006, 24X64, DIGITAL INK JET
holly, 2006, 24X50, DIGITAL INK JET

"NOIR", 2007-09



Utensils, 2008-10, VARIOUS, Digital Ink Jet
Organics, Fall / Spring , 2008-10, 13x19, Digital Ink Jet
blades of grass, 2010, VARIOUS, Digital Ink Jet


“MEMO:” , 2004-7
- http://www.basearts.com/work/memo/memo.html

Through these series, memo: and architectural elements I am interchanging the notion of a language of signs, symbolism in the arts and religion and the corporate memo – all of which presume an understanding within a closed system of meaning.
Symbols drawn in illustration of the impact of time, travel and diverse experiences on memory and my own sense of identity. There are implied references to place, art history, spirituality and culture. Making a poetic form of a memorandum - abbreviated and or understood within a shared context.

The meaning between image, drawing and text as elements of linguistic theory.
Language as a shared secret or an internal MEMO.
Reference to art making and the act of framing events and experiences.

Digital Inkjet
Proof Dimensions: 8.5x11
Final Print Dimensions: 24x56

“Architectural Elements”, 2004-6
- http://www.basearts.com/work/elements/elements.html

Exposure to natural forces, primary forces. Making sense of making meaningful relationships of art making with natural forces at work and play in nature. Theoretically, there is an engagement with elemental principles of architecture and installation.

Digital Inkjet
Proof Dimensions: 8.5x11
Final Print Dimensions: 24x56

“Perceptual Apparatus” , 1992-96
- http://www.basearts.com/work/percept/index.htm

Altering physiologically processes toward the potential exchange of /or communication of an experience through vision versus the presentation of or representational image.

Relationship established between my own experience and the visual experience.

Encouraged viewer to actually see things differently.
Eyeglasses as metaphor for an altered or shared point of view.

Silver Prints/Sculptural Elements
Proof Dimensions: 8.5x11
Final Print Dimensions: 8.5x11 +installed elements

"Beach" , 1988 –

An image/text puzzle/poem made of cross references between my relationship at the time and our experience living and working on the beach, characters acting out a relationship and staged on the beach and the notion that there is a universal language of signs that could represent the experience of being a man and a woman in a relationship. The beach as a metaphor for life or a shared experience.

Relationships between images.
Relationships between methods of communication - image - text - diagrams.
Encouraged play by the participants or the viewers in the sand boxes or small beaches provided

© basearts & john sappington