Selected works from artist Perry Johnson are being featured on the walls of the Falany Performing Arts Center. The gallery will remain until the end of October.
Johnson, born in Richlands, Virginia, serves as assistant professor of painting at Tennessee Technological University in Cookville, Tennessee.
“A figurative, realist painter, Mr. Johnson’s art tells stories. Sometimes, the stories are comic; sometimes, emotionally painful; at other times, his characters seem caught in the moments between the stories that make up their lives,” said Mark Roberts, vice president of academic affairs in a recent email to students.
Johnson finds his inspiration from his surroundings.
“I was raised in rural Appalachia with strong matriarchs and a library card. Curiosity, provocation, conviction, compulsion, play, I understand these, but not inspiration. Inspiration seems passive and I’m impatient,” Johnson said.
Johnson credits one of his first painting teachers, Kelvin Seabolt, as being an important influence on this life and art.
“I enrolled in his classes at the local community college when I was in eighth grade. We made frequent road trips to museums and libraries. He taught me everything he knew and then some,” Johnson said.
Johnson has been painting for almost 30 years but he says that he still feels as if he’s just learning to paint.
His teaching career began in 1999.
“Teaching forces me to deconstruct my own processes. Sometimes a person is successful in spite of their habits and not because of them. I’m a better painter because I teach. In the studio, we’re continually working through problems I would’ve never encountered on my own. I’ve begun painting in egg tempera as a result of a class demo,” Johnson said.
The work on display in the FPAC is presented in two groups. The more recent work is near the entrance and includes a piece that features pictures of ears on tin cans.
“The ears are about empathy, frustrated by communication technology. Whether it’s tin cans and taut twine or Skype, understanding is a casualty of transmission,” Johnson said.
The work in the main lobby is from a 10-year period between 2004 and 2014.
“These paintings [those located in the main lobby] are about our stewardship of the humanist ideal. Titles are important and the images are loaded so I would want people to take time to read these works,” Johnson said.
He added that the work near the entrance “is less cerebral and so perhaps more readily felt if not read.”
Johnson plans on continuing to exhibit his work in the future. He visited Reinhardt on Oct. 7 for an Artist Talk preceding a performance by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
Written By: Thomas May. Photo By: The Eagle Eye Staff