Monday, January 19, 2009

Art Space Talk: Justin Lowman

Justin Lowman, has won second place in the 2008 Graduate Scholarship Competition provided by Justin will receive a $2,000 cash scholarship from myartspace. The myartspace Art Scholarship program began in July 2008 and entries were due by December 15, 2008. $16,000 of cash scholarships are awarded to the top three winners in the undergraduate category and the graduate category. Entry to the competition is free as is membership to myartspace.

Justin Lowman earned a BA in Art History and Classic Humanities from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He is currently concluding his MFA Candidate at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA. Justin describe in his own words his works "I want to reinvigorate various kinds of contexts both public and private to produce renewed awareness of being. With a change in focus or through a unique set of materials, one can see the familiar in new ways in order to pause and reflect on a moment, to capture a fleeting glimpse or perhaps even to smile and gain a sense of wonder.

Producing this kind of situation is important to me because so much of our lives are bombarded with speed and information that challenges our ability to process our lives. As the quality of contemporary life feels increasingly rapid, we observe that time still measures the same as it ever has. Why then do situations sometimes feel painstakingly slow while others exceptionally fast? Taking time to appreciate the small things in moments of contemplation affords the viewer an opportunity to digest and restore."

Catherine McCormack-Skiba, the founder of myartspace and CEO noted, “We had entries to the scholarship program from students at over 1,200 colleges and universities. The unbridled spirit and creativity from this group is quite impressive. While the top winners receive their recognition and award money, virtually all the submissions were of top-notch quality. We applaud the young contemporary artists in school today. Their contribution to the fine art world will be felt for decades to come. We are so excited from this first scholarship program we will be launching our 2009 scholarship program later this year and hope to see more than double the participation. Myartspace remains focused on improving the lives and careers of its community members.”
Brian Sherwin: Justin, you are one of three winners of the graduate art scholarship competition provided by the artist social network As you know the scholarship is intended for students who exhibit exceptional artistic excellence in their chosen medium and is to be used in order to further education in art. Can you describe how you felt entering the competition and your reaction to finding out that you had won?

Justin Lowman: I don't think one ever imagines winning these things. Of course, I knew I couldn't win unless I tried. I enjoyed putting the gallery together. It gave me chance to take inventory on recent work. My placement at the top has rendered me speechless. Of course, there is a smile.
BS: Justin, you are currently attending Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA. You are seeking an MFA in Studio Art. Can you discuss your academic background? For example, have you had any influential instructors?

JL: I am truly grateful to be at Art Center with so many amazing people both students and staff. I feel I am too close to the experience to know what the influences are. While it would be premature to assess Art Center, there have certainly been instructors along the way who have been instrumental to my growth.
My high school teachers--Richard Brown and Katherine Belling--were particularly supportive in planting certain seeds. At that time, it all seemed so new. I spent my undergrad years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison finding my way back to art through first engineering, then art history. It really wasn't until moving to Los Angeles that I was able to begin seeing the possibilities as an artist. Through working with both Lisa Adams and Lia Halloran at UCLA Extension, ideas began to coalesce into something that made art seem attainable for me again.

BS: It appears that you adhere to a specific philosophy concerning life and nature. You have stated the following, “The way nature and light changes endlessly, the way sounds and volumes change continuously, the way air shifts and feels in certain moments, and even the way light influences sensation beyond the visual, all contribute to an entire sense of being that we often readily adapt to and subsequently begin to ignore.” Can you discuss how that concern is reflected within the context of your art?

JL: I look to relations between light, trees and water to begin to understand something of surface and depth. Something so seemingly simple and familiar becomes more complicated the longer and more carefully I observe said phenomena. I think reflection is a good word to use because it both speaks to these relations but it also speaks to memory and deeper senses of being. Like watching the sun set over water light changes both reflectively and atmospherically.
I marvel how that seemingly simple viewing experience continues to mesmerize me. I want the work to deliver that kind of experience where movement shifts subtly with a slight tug at the end as when the sun disappears beyond the horizon. To atttempt to fix one of those fleeting moments provides a kind of pleasure in the present for me.
Much of the work relies on the combination of both fixed and shifting perspectives depending on where the viewer is in relation to the work and whether or not the work itself actually moves. I'm particularly interested in those kind of subtle oscillations. There's such a poetic sense that I feel even words can't begin to describe it.

BS: Tell us more about the thoughts behind your work… the specific themes you explore and the symbolism you embrace…

JL: Like I mentioned previously, the notion of the moment can be both pleasurable and sublime. While the speed of contemporary life appears increasingly rapid, it still measures the same as it ever has. What can this say about how we experience our lives now? Sometimes it feels painstakingly slow, at other times amazingly fast, but it's only in hindsight that we can begin to know meaning.
I find myself thinking a lot about speed in relation to technology where digital media delivers information at the speed of light and how that changes the way we may see ourselves and what kind of new responsibilities we may have given the wealth of information that grows exponentially everyday. I believe there can be no substitute for careful observation and thought. If I can arrest the viewer into a space of contemplation, my hope is that it may provide an opportunity to process and restore.

BS: What about other influences?

JL: I am also inspired by dialogue with my wife Jennifer and our two boys (ages 4 and almost 6). In addition to what the family experience brings in terms of relations in time, I am also inspired by art in many forms including the written and the performed both silent and musical. It is eclectic to be sure.

BS: How do you utilize symbolism within your work? For example, do colors have specific meanings to you? Discuss this aspect of your art…

JL: Colors are very important to me. As a product of matter and light, I am very much invested in questions about location of color. Black and white intensify contrasts to reveal basic structures of things. Reflective surfaces reveal infinite colors based on site conditions and viewers in relation to the work. Here is where the viewer may be able to "get inside" the work a bit.

Most recently my palette has been an investigation into color as it is both perceived through depths of water (black into violets into blues into greens into whites) as well as more digitally oriented color such as magenta and cyan and how those color schemes intermingle to develop a dialogue between the fluidic and the graphic. I want to question the space of the actual and the virtual and where I find myself on that continuum.

BS: Can you discuss the art that you decided to enter into the competition. In your opinion, why do those specific works reflect your growth as an artist?

JL:The work I have chosen is my most recent work. It follows a thread that seeks to draw the viewer further and further into an actual space rather than being held with the mere illusion of virtual space such as that found in my more conventional paintings for example. It's really difficult to present the work photographically because it really needs to be seen firsthand. I want the viewer to be able to interact with it and be in the presence of a moment.

BS: In your opinion, how is the internet changing the landscape of the art world, so to speak. Obviously artists today have more opportunities than they had before the advent of the World Wide Web. What your thoughts on this?

JL: While the value of shared information and networking possibilities is invaluable with internet communities and I am grateful for the ones in which I participate, I am concerned that images of art work posted on the internet are seen as substitutions for an actual viewing experience in a real brick and mortar.
While certain media choices are ideal for web exchange (and there really are some people doing incredible work in the virtual space of the internet), there is still so much that must be seen in the flesh. Ultimately, I want to embrace new technologies and how we can continue to expand our understanding of our being through them while also carefully attending to the ethical issues that emerge with them.

BS: What are your future plans as far as your art is concerned?
JL: Right now I am working to refine aspects of what I have show you while expanding through more video-oriented installations.

BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your art?

JL: I do hope that I can continue to work on ideas that continue to engage contemporary questions about how we perceive time and space, how and where we find ourselves on that continuum in our daily lives, and how we can better see the way we are interconnected and mutually important one to another--that we are one part in many layers of the whole just as moments of time accumulate into collected experience.Thank you so much for your support and interest. It has been a pleasure.

Justin Lowman is currently a member of the community. You can learn more about Justin by visiting his myartspace profile--
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor
New York Art Exchange

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