Our Top Twenty-Five School of Art


Already highly ranked, the School of Art continues on an upward trajectory. They have added five new members to their studio art faculty since 2011—all top choices attracted through competitive national searches. Sculptor John Douglas Powers is one of them.

John Douglas Powers (assistant professor of sculpture) received the Master’s Degree in Fine Arts in sculpture (with distinction) from the University of Georgia and a bachelor’s degree in art history from Vanderbilt University. He came to UT in August 2013 from the University of Alabama-Birmingham where he received tenure in spring 2013.

His work has been acknowledged by numerous awards and grants including the Virginia A. Groot Foundation, First Place Award (2013), the Alabama State Council on the Arts Fellowship in Visual Art (2011), the Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Grant (2008), and the prestigious Margaret Stonewall Wooldridge Hamblet Award (2001). He was Artist in Residence, MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts (2014), and at the Joan Mitchell Center, New Orleans, Louisiana (2013), and the recipient of The Manifest Prize, Manifest Creative Research and Drawing Center, Cincinnati, Ohio (2012).

Since 2008 he has had seventeen solo exhibitions; five since 2013; two more are scheduled for 2015, including one at The Sculpture Center in Cleveland, Ohio. He was one of three artists featured in an exhibition titled “5,000 Moving Parts” that opened at the MIT Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts—a major exhibition that was on view for a year and then held over for an extra two months (November 2013 – January 2015).

His work has been included in seven group exhibitions since 2013—the most noteworthy of which was “State of the Art,” a major national exhibition of contemporary art, including artists from across the U.S. selected by the curators at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art after studio visits. Two of Powers’s works were selected for inclusion, and two were purchased for the Crystal Bridges permanent collection.

Regarding his work, Powers says, “Only the inaccessible and elusive is truly alluring, and what could be more inaccessible or elusive than the past? The allure of the unattainable and its connection to the passage of time has become central to my research. Drawing from areas as diverse as natural history, architecture and the history of technology, I am engaged in an investigation of what lies at the intersection of cinema, computation, music and physical space. By employing motion and sound in my work, I incorporate the passage of time as a compositional element in an attempt to more closely examine abstract and often intangible topics such as memory, thought, emotion, language and the essence of self.”

Cate McQuaid writing for the Boston Globe observes,

“In ‘Ialu,’ scores of sticks mounted upright on wooden beams flutter and tilt as a motor moves the beams. The sticks sway; they lean into one another, then rise and lean the other way, like reeds in a blustery marsh. A video of the sky is projected on the wall behind them.

Powers’s canny use of sound amplifies the lulling effect. The machinery squeaks and groans. If you listen long enough, those noises transform into a seaside concert: gulls cawing, the wind moaning. ‘Ialu’ refers to an Egyptian myth of paradise, a wetland with fish and fowl to feed those who live there after death.”

website: john-powers.com

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