Justin W John

(he/him)
American, b. 1981
Lives and works in Boise, Idaho
Artist Statement

My work forms in the gray matter. I pluck out the pearls, sort out the rotten parts, regurgitate, lather, rinse, and repeat. Our evolving social models are made up of interpersonal relationships, textual translations, and pixelated information. Technology advances as it does hinder. I aspire to maintain a balance of traditional and digital process-based techniques to limn universal narratives. A discovery process in which each piece forms from evolving gestural layers of paint—adding, subtracting, scouring, and sanding to reveal concealed fragments. Time interacts with physicalities of color and shape, an experience that corresponds to communication—with others and within ourselves.

Biography

Justin W John is an abstract artist whose practice focuses on physical painting and digital media art. His work addresses identity, the subconscious, gender and sexuality, culture and  societal ties to technology through autobiographical ruminations. He works intuitively, allowing each piece to develop its personality. Justin’s work bridges internal and external, translating non-physical states into gestural forms, patterns, and markings through his meticulous brush and knife strokes. His introspective narratives act as commentary that speaks to our commonality.

Justin W John was born in the Philippines and raised in Virginia and Maryland. He graduated from Maryland Institute, College of Art, in 2003 with a BFA in graphic design. Justin’s work has been in solo exhibitions, group exhibitions, and art fairs throughout the western United States, including Yellowstone Art Museum and The Other Art Fair. Justin was recently selected as a recipient of studio space—part of Surel’s Place Studios in the Live-Work-Create district of Garden City for the 2022-23 season. Justin has also created commissioned public art for the city of Boise, ID.

In the Studio

Education

1999 – 2003

Maryland Institute, College of Art, Baltimore, MD

Residencies

2022 – 2023

Surel Mitchell Live-Work-Create District, One-year artist residency
Surel’s Place Studios, Garden City, ID

Selected Exhibitions

2022

Queer ID, Group exhibition
Blue Galleries, Boise, ID

32 Cells—Sense of Place, Group exhibition
Idaho State Penitentiary, Boise, ID

10×10×10×TIETON, Group exhibition
Tieton Arts & Humanities, Tieton, WA

Lucid Interludes, Solo
The Riverside Hotel, Water’s Edge Gallery, Garden City, ID

2021

M.A.P. Idaho Artists Showcase, Group exhibition
Initial Point Gallery, Meridian City Hall, Meridian, ID

18th Annual Juried Exhibition,
Group exhibition
Art Source Gallery, Boise, ID

The Other Art Fair Los Angeles
Presented by Saatchi Art, Group fair
ROW DTLA, Los Angeles, CA

Twisted District, Solo exhibition
Twisted District, Garden City, ID

The Other Art Fair Virtual Editions Los Angeles
Presented by Saatchi Art, Group virtual fair, Los Angeles, CA

Art Auction 53, Group exhibition
Yellowstone Art Museum, Billings, MT 

2020

The Other Art Fair Online Studios Los Angeles
Presented by Saatchi Art, Group online fair, Los Angeles, CA
(Included in Saatchi Art Curated Collections—Cold War- Era Nostalgia, Contemplative & Calm Abstracts, Make A Statement, New Pop Art)

Tom of Finland Emerging Artist Competition, Group online exhibition
Tom of Finland Foundation, Los Angeles, CA

Portraits, Group online exhibition
Las Laguna Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA

High Kitsch, Group exhibition + online exhibition
The Gem Center for the Arts, Boise, ID

Eros, C’est La Vie, Online exhibition
Gallery 110, Seattle, WA

Art Auction 52, Group exhibition
Yellowstone Art Museum, Billings, MT 

Community Projects
2020

LL4V: Love Letters 4 VAC, Benefit auction
Visual Arts Collective, Garden City, ID 

Rally For Sally! - Cancer Benefit, Benefit auction
Visual Arts Collective, Garden City, ID 

2019

Traffic Box Art Pop-Up, Group show
Beside Bardenay, Boise, ID

North x Northwest, Group exhibition
Yellowstone Art Museum, Billings, MT

17th Annual Juried Art Show, Group exhibition
Art Source Gallery, Boise, ID

Art Auction 51, Group exhibition
Yellowstone Art Museum, Billings, MT 

Public Art
2019

“Go With The Flow” by Kristen T. Ramirez
Boise Greenbelt Mural Project, Boise, ID 

“300 Gallons” 19-181Q, Traffic Box Art
Boise City Dept. of Art & History, Boise, ID 

2018

Conception Arts, Group show
Iron Triangle, DTLA, CA

RAW: CONNECT, Group show
Revolution Concert Event Center, Garden City, ID

SIMULACRUM, Solo exhibition
UPCYCLE Studio, Boise, ID 

My Artrepreneur Program:
Forum Spotlight

Dr. Edrienne Kittredge & Justin W John
November 16, 2021

John, a painter working in acrylic and mixed mediums, creates works that “employ figurative modes and references to pop art and culture.” Fascinated by psychology and the cognitive process, he refers to his work as “abstract landscapes – not unlike the quiet chaos in our minds.” Using brush and palette knife, John focuses his work on the human experience. His use of intense colors and heavily developed surfaces form bridges between the unseen internal felt experience and the external observable action, the latter revealing the former in patterns, figures, colors, and textures.

This artist’s work draws mostly on his personal experience while some titles reflect political and social tones in current events, and others reference historical art figures. Influences of a wide array of artists, styles, and media weave his work, creating a tapestry of separate and seemingly unrelated ideas and emotion that find meaning in their juxtaposition.

In their truest state, John sees inspirations as the connections that occur as his “inquisitive and introspective mind sorts out workings from the gray matter.” He sees our interpersonal relationships, perceptions of contexts, and pixelated information from our societal models as both the puzzle pieces and the essence of what is called “our story.” During such periods of reflection, this artist connects the dots that form “the kaleidoscope” in which he works. The process is not necessarily a neat one as he searches for patterns to express what is happening inside. “Reflection, distortion, emotion, random synaptic firings, all litter my process like land mines.” However, the examination of the day-to-day can yield for him, “beauty in the banal or miserable. Acceptance, rather than ignorance, then a pushing past and a moving beyond.”

There is more to John’s work than expressing a personal narrative because he wants to “encourage a creative spirit to grow within everyone.” Towards that end, he says, “I like to find solutions to problems and find potential in what seems lost,” a goal that often incorporates other avenues of expression, including photography, graphic design (including website), illustration, fashion, and interior design.

In writing about his work, John has explained more fully his process in his FFL Series, “Much of it came out during moments where I could clear my head and just let it flow—spontaneous motions that constitute new mind maps.” He poured acrylic paint between canvas and a plastic sheet which slowed the flow from the normal gravitational pull. Guided by the movements of the artist’s hands on the plastic, creases of paint compacted between the two surfaces while solidifying. Upon removal of the plastic, pockets of air and water exited through the acrylic skin and evaporated. From this process, organic shapes formed as the polymer coalesced.