Artist’s Reception: Saturday, June 1st, 6-9 PM
In his first exhibition at Callan Contemporary, John Folsom examines the
landscape of the Southern swamp as a quiet space of meditative solitude. Culled from
images gathered at Okefenokee Swamp in South Georgia, this new body of work
represents the area as ethereal space brimming with folkloric myth and peaceful
contemplation. Inspired by the position of swampy landscapes in classic monster movies,
these snap shots of an otherworldly setting leave an indelible mark. Drawing deeply on
the primitive flora and fauna of the setting, Folsom leaves the palette neutral and
somber, enhancing the introspective effect. The reflective nature of the waterways cutting through the landscapes tugs at memories, causing personal narratives, Southern
mythologies and family histories to become individually projected into the visual space.
The effect of the dozen new large-scale works is transformative; the pieces loom, pulling
the viewer along, through channels draped in Spanish moss as landscapes disappear or
barely float on the surface. Punctuated splashes of green meeting the yellow
undergrowth of the water breathe life into the setting as the eye moves ever forward.
Trees, haloed and obliterated by the use of white pigments seem to hover on the edge
of perception. One does not look at the pieces as much as enter them.
Folsom’s practice demonstrates this narrative potential of landscape images through the
intersection of painting and photography. His multi-tiered process begins with travel and
documentation. Full digital images are broken into grids; then each tile is developed
individually onto digital pigment print. The image is reassembled and adhered to a
wooden panel, evidence of the grid remaining in the completed piece. He then paints
on the surface of the photographic paper using traditional oils and seals the work with a
wax finishing varnish.
Folsom is a mixed media artist born and raised in Paducah, Kentucky. He earned a
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Cinema and Photography from Southern Illinois University.
Folsom’s work has been exhibited extensively throughout North American and can be
found in many institutional collections including the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston,
South Carolina. His work was most recently acquired for the private collection of Jon
“My new series, Creeper Lagoon, is an attempt to present the space of the swamp as a
cultural construct,” he says. “Devoid of indigenous life, the images presented here
become a space of potential where the viewer’s reference and experience fill in the
gaps to create a personal narrative. My fascination with these spaces has grown with
continued photographic exploration of the American coastal south.”
In Folsom’s work, the swamp is a microcosm, rich with primitive flora and fauna, but also
abounding with stories of swamp monsters, swamp gas and white alligators. This
exhibition seeks to present the territory as a beginning from which an enterprise of
contemplation and projection can be launched. In this way, the swamp is dependent
upon the viewer’s experience and interpretation to find its place.