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John Wood: The System is Alive

October 13, 2023 at 8:00 am - April 28, 2024 at 8:00 pm

John Wood: The System is Alive

Oct 13, 2023 – Apr 28, 2024
John C. Wood (1922-2012) was an educator and artist whose practice transcended divisions of media. Wood taught with distinction at Alfred University from 1954 to 1987 where he developed the photo, graphic design, book arts, printmaking, and foundation programs in the School of Art & Design. Wood was a revered and influential professor who described his aesthetic practice as “being in the state of drawing” and grounded in his personalized forms of “System Drawing.” These philosophies, prominent throughout this exhibition, are the connective tissue for his life’s work.

The exhibition focuses on the relationship between Wood’s visual scholarship and its expression through diverse media, extending through more than 25 different forms and variants. Among the media are drawings on various substrates, including a range of papers, rocks, and sand, and an equivalent variety of print media, including intaglio, etching, lithographs, woodcuts, silkscreen, and photography. The photographic works are themselves in a range of formats, from cyanotypes to multi-media collages. Many of the works seen here have never been exhibited before. In his work, Wood did not offer answers to questions, instead presenting pathways for consideration. His work took on a range of subjects, but ultimately, they were platforms for conversation on topics of environmental, political, and social concerns.

Nearly all Wood’s notes, writings on art, and preparatory works have been held and archived by members of his family. This record of achievement and discovery stretching from 1948 into the new millennium has not previously been studied.  John Wood: The System is Alive represents an in-depth examination of close to 400 of Wood’s notebooks, sketchbooks, one-of-a-kind experimental artist’s books, and unframed preliminary drawings bringing forth a profound reinterpretation and radically new appreciation of the depth and breadth of an artist generally remembered as master photographer and educator.

Wood’s artwork is in collections nationally. These include Baltimore Museum of Art, Center for Creative Photography, George Eastman House, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles County Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, The National Gallery of Canada, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, and many others. This exhibition, curated by Joseph Scheer and organized with help from the supportive team at the Institute for Electronic Arts at Alfred University is presented with support from the Tower Family Fund, and the Wendt Foundation, Thanks to Carol Wood and family for all of their great work and Anthony Bannon, PhD for his review and advice on the broad spectrum of the artist’s career.


October 13, 2023 at 8:00 am
April 28 at 8:00 pm
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Burchfield Penney Art Center
1300 Elmwood Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14222 United States
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