Artist John Sheridan poses difficult societal questions through his hard-hitting conceptual sculpture. See more of his portfolio by visiting his website.
I was five and saw my mother’s just opened box of pastels, arranged beautifully in rows of colors—I felt I had my first near religious symbolic experience like a gilded, revealed altarpiece.
Art meant nothing to me then. It’s come to mean almost everything to me since.
In school I stopped spontaneously drawing and turned to Latin and academic classes to aim for medical school. I started to become interested in girls, who were more exciting. I was a good student, although extremely neglected. Living in a tragically dysfunctional family, I battled the terrible, invisible cultural demons of industrial capitalism I only partially understood.
I was accepted into a prestigious, accelerated medical school program at Michigan that promised an MD in just six years rather than the usual eight. However, after my freshman year, I began taking art classes. A friend, whose uncle, the Director of New York City’s Pierpont Morgan Library, gave me catalogues of art exhibits and auctions.
I realized art had a story, a history and a cast of amazing characters. Utterly fascinated and hooked, I quit medical school to everyone’s astonishment and transferred to the College of Art. I’ve never regretted my decision to become the person I wanted to be, a sophisticated artist searching only for wisdom and insight through art.
I finished my BFA in Boston, then graduate school at CCAC in Oakland. I had thought that people in California were very open-minded, experimental, accepting and adventurous. That was not the case at CCAC and I left after one semester. I did like the weather, however, and remained in the Bay Area.
I’ve experimented with video and performance art; then painting I’m very proud of. I combined abstract process techniques over which I painted compelling American working class commercial figurative imagery found in film posters, old sexy pulp illustrations, car ads and sensational language as seen in “Heaven’s My Destination,” “ZIP!” and “The Bubbles Attack, ” all of which can be seen on my site.
I saw a way to use very accessible, common popular imagery to take the “known” and reveal the “unknown” and experimental mind.
In 2018, after many mass shootings, I had a vision of a rifle made of bones, and began creating hard-hitting conceptual sculpture that is not for the average viewer, but only for those who seek a similar level of enlightenment.
I ask hard questions. “Can a remorselessly profit-and-violence driven society expect art?”
I can’t create decorative and pretty art that flatters class conceits. I must create work that directly deals with the issues of out-of-control gun violence and militarism, as well as the oppression of money. However, I add wit and humor to my creations which are as equally important as justifiable outrage creating satirical, parodistic works that quote our virtually cartoon quality society. There is hope in my work, because if they resonate with viewers, perhaps they will feel compelled to do something about the issues represented.
I’ve also created the first ever regional art prize for Bay Area artists; finally giving all artists a place to show their work for little or no cost.