With Jane In Mississippi

I was in a fun show last month with one of my former grads, Jane Jun! Matt Ballou and Jane Jun: Identify featured self-portraits investigating our sense of self and projection of meaning. Though I really enjoyed many of Jane’s works on plexi that were in the exhibition, I personally love this one that has been hanging in my studio for years:

scanA sketch by Jane Jun that she gave me right before graduating a few years ago.

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Above you can see installation shots from the Columbus Art Council’s Rosenzweig Gallery in Mississippi. Jane Jun and I had a two person show there through the month of August. Jane was one of my grads, and she was wonderful to work with. I’m really grateful I got to be a part of her story.

2014-05-18 23.02.38Us, pointing off into the distance…

Though Jane lives in Korea now, I was able to arrange to put on this show of small works about identity and self-portraiture using many of the pieces Jane had in her Thesis Exhibition. Aislinn Nolte, a former student of mine as well, is now the director of the Columbus Art Center and helped us make connections. I’m pleased with how she hung the show and glad to have gotten to show some strange works that I made in 2015 with this exhibition in mind.

Ballou - Self Portrait With HaloSelf Portrait with Halo, acrylic on canvas, 2001.

The pieces I showed were reinterpretations of self portraits I had made as an undergraduate nearly 20 years ago. You can see the two new versions of my Self Portrait with Halo at the top of this post. My method was to take images of these older self portraits and rework them digitally in my iPad. After satisfied with the digital states, I printed the works out onto canvas using a large format printer here in the Mizzou Art Department. Finally, I mounted the prints onto panel, sealed them, and then worked back into them in acrylic or oil.

These new versions of the older works – as well as the multi-stepped process I used to create them, were intended to critique and transform the meaning of the original works in the light of my life experience since they were first created. The process mimicked my physical and intellectual changes, and resulted in pieces intended to be funny or poignant.

ballou-selfwithcandleSelf Portrait With Candle, digital state, 2015, after a work made in oil on panel in 2003.

 I had a good time preparing these works for exhibition and hope to show them again at some point. I’m sure Jane won’t mind!

JJ!

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Post-Heart Attack Drawings

My recent work, titled WHENEVERWHEN, is a series of abstractions. A few days after I awoke from my heart attack I began to make drawings; from then on I worked almost exclusively on the WHENEVERWHEN series. The first images I created are below. I made them laying in my old room in my mother’s house while convalescing. I worked on them within two weeks of my cardiac arrest. All are available at $75 each, unframed ($100 gets you one custom framed). Email me at mattballou(at) gmail (dot) com to purchase. Click to enlarge the works.

img_0734Untitled WHENEVERWHEN drawing, crayon and marker on paper, 9 by 8 inches, 2016. SOLD.

img_0733Untitled WHENEVERWHEN drawing, crayon, white-out, and marker on paper, 7.5 by 9 inches, 2016.

img_0732Untitled WHENEVERWHEN drawing, crayon, white-out, and marker on paper, 8 by 9 inches, 2016.

img_0731Untitled WHENEVERWHEN drawing, crayon and marker on paper, 8 by 9 inches, 2016.

img_0730 Untitled WHENEVERWHEN drawing, collage, adhesive tape, ink, crayon and marker on paper, 10.25 by 9 inches, 2016.

My Little Brother Started College This Semester

destin4Destin, striking a pose…

I’m proud of the guy. He’s strong, smart, and pretty thoughtful (although it’s hard to find a picture of him that’s not a selfie taken in the bathroom). I know pursuing higher education is going to make him an even better thinker and doer in this world. His matriculation this semester is not only about his abilities and drive, but also about the vision that our mom had many years ago, as well as the guidance and mentoring our older sister provided. I think Destin would thank everyone – Walt, Stacey, and Denya, our Mom and Pastor Dan – for their efforts. I know he’ll make us even more proud.

destin2Stacey and Destin on a walk back in the day…

One of my favorite memories of Destin’s early years was when I’d come home from college to spend a few days with family and sometimes things would devolve into sword fighting…

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destin3That’s some glory right there!

Destin, I hope your first semester is rolling along amazingly well. When things get weird, strike a pose with a plastic sword like the old days.

It’ll help, brother.

~

Ground Zero

In 2004 my cousin Chris and I made a trip to New York City. We visited Ground Zero and toured around the site, getting a view of the excavation, and seeing how the very early stages of construction were going. This was before any of the current layout for the area was even agreed upon. There was an impromptu memorial set up in the early days of the recovery – a cross made from some of the material left after the obliteration of the Twin Towers. By the time Chris and I arrived it was set aside, lit, and visited by many thousands of visitors. Here’s one of the images we took.

9-11-iron-cross

The aftermath of 9/11 is, unfortunately, mostly related to our National response to the events of that day… we can pretend that it’s about terrorism and extremism, but the negative changes are much more about the ways our leaders chose to articulate themselves  – and us with them – in the world. The world in which we have lived for the last 15 years is a result of those choices. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world have been killed. Millions are displaced. The electorate of this country is fractured and disheartened. ISIS rose from the ashes of those we killed. A cross should stand for redemption and hope. Unfortunately, we can see after all of these years that we are more scared, more disrespected, and more disrespectful as a country than we were back then.

I hope we regroup and regrow. There were moments of passion, good faith, and love in the days, weeks, and years that followed 9/11. We must nurture those better angels. I hope we will, for my children and for my children’s children.

There’s still a chance to look at what we once refused to see.

There’s still a chance to come back and no longer “become the evil we deplore.”

~