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Audible Sculpture

Powers to exhibit his work
at Hanover College art show

The Indiana native teaches
at the University of Tennessee

(September 2013) – For those accustomed to art that hangs quietly on a wall, the sculptures of John Douglas Powers may come as something of a surprise. His carefully crafted moving machines are works of art that are made to watch and hear, not simply to view.
The subtle whir, click or clatter of Powers’ kinetic sculptures draw viewers in to see just what is making that sound as they follow the motions of swaying reeds or wooden machines typing away at old typewriters.

Powers Art

Photo courtesy of Joshua Bienko

Frankfort, Ind., native
John Douglas Powers’
sculptural work has been
exhibited nationally and
his videos and animations
have been screened
internationally.

Powers

“I think that sound is a really important component,” Powers says, reflecting on his work.
Powers explains that he has had “a continual interest in music” and spent time as a college DJ and also played in an indie rock band.
He says that when he began working with kinetic sculptures, the sounds were initially something of a “side effect” from all the moving parts. He soon “embraced and ran with it,” consciously integrating the noises as integral parts of the sculptures.
“You sort of work your way through things and find what feels natural,” Powers says.
Powers’ exhibition, titled “Nothing is Past,” will be on display at the Greiner Art Gallery at Hanover College from Sept. 9 through Oct. 25. On Oct. 25, there will be a public lecture by the artist and a closing reception beginning at 5:30 p.m.
The exhibition will showcase Powers’ diverse skills as an artist displaying kinetic sculptures, video projections and more traditional, static sculptures with no moving parts. Powers, born in Frankfort, Ind., said he is pleased to be presenting his first solo show in Indiana.
“Growing up in that rural setting, fields of grain, it’s a little exciting to think about coming home,” he says. After the close of the show, some of his pieces will be moving on to a long-term exhibition for kinetic sculpture at the MIT museum.
Leticia R. Bajuyo, Associate Professor of Art at Hanover College, explains that Powers’ work is a natural fit for the Liberal Arts school that challenges students to see how their own fields of study connect with other majors. “John Douglas Powers was selected for exhibition at the Greiner Art Gallery because of the liberal arts nature of his artwork and because of the strength of his portfolio and exhibition record.
By combining natural history and technology, cinema and computation, Powers’ artwork links to several disciplines and areas of study as he explores the passage of time. Audiences members, both in the college and the community, can expect to see a beautiful balance between well-crafted use of media that reveals Powers’ dedication to making and a sense of presence of the present through movement and sound.”
The display will serve as a valuable learning experience for the Hanover art students not only in that they will be able to study the pieces on display, but also in that they will have the opportunity to watch the exhibit being arranged and installed.
Bajuyo points out that, “As an audience member, even a complex exhibition can at times seem struggle-free. By witnessing how John Douglas Powers handles his art as he unloads a truck, responds to the space, and constructs the sculptures, the students will gain insight of how an artist like Powers creates and what he has to consider when exhibiting.”
Powers, 35, recently accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Sculpture at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, after teaching for five years at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. He said he is greatly looking forward to meeting his new students and is pleased that he will be teaching both beginning sculpture and a graduate seminar in his first semester at UT.
“It’s kind of the perfect mix; I get them coming and leaving,” he says. Powers reflects on the impact that teaching has on his art saying, “It goes both ways, being an active artist impacts what you do in the classroom,” and that the students in turn influence his thinking about his own works.
“Young people have questions that you may have written off or not really reflected on,” he shares, “It compels you to stay engaged.”

• The Greiner Art Gallery is located in Hanover College’s Lynn Center for Fine Arts Building. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit http://art.hanover.edu or www.johndouglaspowers.com.

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