Phoneme: A Collaboration

Since 2013 artists and educators Joel T. Dugan and Matt Ballou have conducted a collaborative effort, largely via the shipment of artworks back and forth between each other. The works develop with little critique or overarching direction, allowing for an instinctive, intuitive interaction between these two very different – yet kindred – image makers.

Over the years this partnership has resulted in a number of exhibitions including IN CAHOOTS at es ef eff gallery in Brooklyn, NY, Ballougan at Fort Hays State University in Hays, KS, and Portal at Imago Gallery and Cultural Center in Columbia, MO.

This current iteration of their co-creative efforts is titled Phoneme. A phoneme is any of the basic abstract units of sound that underpin a verbal language. In the context of this visual work, we imagine that archetypal shapes, evocatively textured surfaces, and the dynamic between linear digressions and chromatic masses could result in an almost synesthetic resonance. Might these heavily-worked abstract forms suggest sounds or parts of a word? Are they the gestation of an alternative alphabet?

Phoneme Works

All pictured works are 8×8 inches and mixed media (mostly, oil, acrylic paint, alcohol inks, spray paints, various permanent markers, and varnishes or polyurethanes) on wood panels. All were created beginning in 2017 and completed by 2020.

Matthew Ballou – Full Teaching Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Art Program, School of Visual Studies, University of Missouri.

Joel T. Dugan – Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Architecture, Art, and Design, Fairmont State University.