John Nava – Representing by Hand: Painting in the Digital Age
John Nava’s keynote speech abstract:
Representing by Hand:
Painting in the Digital Age
What does it mean to make still, handmade pictures in the digital age? One part of the answer lies in the essential fact that painting is a tactile art – work of the hand. The content of this manual technology is vision – both in the optical and moral sense – and it takes form in a unique physical object. Unlike the succession of light-capturing technologies from earliest photography to the latest digital scans this process of mark and touch has hardly changed since prehistoric times. Handmade representation is a depth form, layered in meaning and structure. As such it stands outside the overwhelming flood of our world’s high-speed image stream. In contrast it is “slow” and authentic. It both resists and reveals the fast-food style consumption of our now customary routine of pattern recognition. Image invention, not capture, is the work of the painter. It makes visible and tangible the invisible worlds of vision, perception, spirit and feeling.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
John Nava studied art at UC Santa Barbara and did his graduate work in Florence, Italy. His work is found in numerous private, corporate and public collections throughout the United States, Europe and Japan including the National Museum of American Art in Washington D.C.
His work is represented in such publications as Post-Modernism: The New Classicism in Art and Architecture (Rizzoli, New York) by Charles Jencks who coined the term “post-modernism” and American Realism (Abrams, New York) by Edward Lucie Smith, a comprehensive history of realist painting in the United States..
Nava has done large-scale public works including a 45’ wide mural for the Tokyo Grain Exchange in Tokyo, Japan and a 56’ wide fountain sculpture at 100 Brand Blvd. in Glendale, California. In 1998 he was commissioned by the Seattle Symphony to paint a life-size double portrait of Jack and Rebecca Benaroya for Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle.
In 1999 Nava was commissioned by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to create three major cycles of tapestries for the new Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. The primary cycle of 25 tapestries depict The Communion of Saints and comprise 136 saints from all parts of the world. The tapestries were woven in Belgium and range in size from 18’ to 48’ high with figures averaging 10’ tall. Our Lady of the Angels, the largest Catholic cathedral in the United States, opened in September of 2002.
In 2003 Nava’s tapestries for the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels won the National Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art and Architecture (IFRAA) Design Honor Award for Visual Art.
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