John Wood (1922–2012): A Remembrance

John Wood was a tall, trim, quiet, almost shy, man, who introduced both the practice and the love of art to students at Alfred University for more than thirty years before retiring in 1989, and elsewhere for twenty years after. But more than this, he was a man who created an extraordinary amount of both beautiful and meaningful art over his long lifetime. I always thought of Paul Klee when I saw John’s work—not that their art looked anything alike, but that they seemed to share many of the same characteristics and qualities in their approach to their art-making. Like Klee, John’s mastery of color, line, pattern, form, and space (the tools he used to create his pictures) was superb; and his effortless movement through a broad spectrum of processes and media—painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, bookmaking, etc.—which he combined to craft his works, was impressive.

Blackbirds Some Have Hunger, 1986 Collage, cyanotype, graphite, 20" x 24”

Blackbirds Some Have Hunger (1986) by John Wood. Collage, cyanotype, graphite, 20″ x 24”

Most of all, I loved the gentle playfulness that infused John’s work; a playfulness that never masked its deeply serious intent. Because John addressed some weighty issues in his work, which often commented upon war and gun control, on nuclear proliferation and ecological destruction. John insisted on personal responsibility and never used political rhetoric or abstract generalities, but always brought the focus back to what he felt and believed and knew about how these global issues affected him and those he loved. John was a rare poet who could tie together the individual and the universal, and present them in compellingly beautiful and persuasive images. We will miss his voice.

–William S. Johnson

 

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