Friday, January 14, 2011

Sketchbook Show

A few weeks back, Patrick, owner of my favorite dusty little coffeeshop, Meshuggahs, asked me if I'd like to show some work on his espresso scented walls. It offered a chance to put together a small collection of images from my ongoing "Drawing in Church" sketchbook series.

Sketchbooks are very difficult to present faithfully in any kind of exhibition. You really can't display original art as removing the images from the binding compromises the entire book, it is also clunky to ask a viewer to flip through an open book on a pedestal. As many of my students have seen at the Modern Graphic History Library at Washington University, we have an extensive collection of Robert Weaver's sketchbooks. What the students always say is "Why did he draw on the BACK of this amazing drawing with ANOTHER amazing drawing!" I made hi-res color prints and foam laminated them for hanging. My short introduction follows.

I love to draw. There is something magical about the solitude of pen, paper, and a voice. To me, the joy of making images is the opportunity to tell a small story. Not a lofty or unique goal, to be sure, but one that I enjoy. Working everyday as an editorial and book illustrator, I don’t consider drawing a mystical event, but a process. That said, there is something transcendental about the linear improvisation of working in a sketchbook. Much like jazz, it is unpredictable, exciting and unfiltered... with very good and very bad results.

Though I agonize over my more finished and composed drawings, the accidental doodads in my sketchbook represent the very best part of my work. I attend church every Sunday, and I draw during the sermon. All of these pages were done in a pew at Grace & Peace Fellowship, a Presbyterian church a few blocks east on Delmar. The images on the wall are a small collection of my favorites. Though I don't bring my watercolors with me (that waits till I get home and have an upcoming deadline) I draw with a variety of colored pens and inks. The collision of text and image on a page can bring new meaning not found in either passage alone. This is also true in the language of faith, as the parables of Jesus bring new meaning to difficult ideas. Simultaneous drawing and listening can transform familiar language into something new- a feedback loop of symbols, theology and wonder. -John Hendrix

The show will be up through February, a few images of the show.



Reedicus said...

Truly wonderful work John! Your introduction itself is inspiring. You never cease to amaze me with the imagination you are blessed with.


Paul Hoppe said...

Great show John, it must be so nice to present this very personal series to an audience! Congratulations, I wish I could see it in person!

Diana C said...

Prof. Hendrix,
I was just at the cafe a couple days ago and noticed your work on the walls before I read the sign! Almost half were gone (sold or surreptitiously missing!) - it's amazing to hear they were only up since the beginning of February.