I’ve got a solo exhibition coming up October 5 – October 25, 2013, in Hays, Kansas. The exhibition, titled ASEVENANDAWONADOE* will take place at the Moss-Thorn Gallery of Art on the campus of Fort Hays State University. Featuring thirty new works, the exhibition will unite the representational tondos and abstract mandalas that I have been creating simultaneously over the last few years.
ASEVENANDAWONADOE* – Paintings and Prints by Matthew Ballou
This exhibition explores the reality that a vernacular of meaning is constructed through our physical, emotional, and intellectual experiences. These experiences take place in the spaces that surround us, via the ideas that fill our minds, and through the objects that engage us. Meaning is imputed to these spaces, ideas, and objects rather than being necessarily inherent in them. This notion follows from the work of 20th Century Pragmatist philosopher John Dewey, who described how we “fund” our lives with significance through investments of time, emotion, and effort. These, in turn, come together to manifest the wealth of meaning we sense in our world.
By concentrating my artistic contemplation on objects that I have funded over the course of my life, I draw attention to not only their significance but also the modes, methods, and extents to which others have done the same. Conversely, by exploring issues that previous generations have investigated, such as the mandala form and geometric abstraction, I participate in the legacy of their contemplations. In a sense, I have borrowed from the storehouse they built while adding an investment of my own. The works on display here play on the distance between representation and abstraction, between the iconic and symbolic, between the organic and geometric, and between the received and the constructed.*ASEVENANDAWONADOE is a word my young daughter Miranda invented during the time she was learning “real” words. It combined the structures of the new words she was encountering but was also, to her, connected to abstract concepts such as mathematics, pain, comfort, and security. An entirely made up word – yet one that relied on the received information and influences my daughter experienced – ASEVENANDAWONADOE is an example of something seemingly “meaningless” taking on meaning through experience, context, and subjectivity. In adding to the history and lineage of this word by including it in this exhibition, I further shape the contours of its potential meaning and more deeply connect it to the story of our family.