I am for an art that kicks my soul in the ass. And if we do not have souls, I am for an art that makes me feel like I have a soul… and that it has just been kicked in the ass.
Born in Los Angeles of mixed Navajo (Diné) and European American heritage, John Feodorov grew up in the suburbs of Southern California while making annual visits to his family’s land on the Navajo Reservation. The time he spent with his grandparents on their homestead near the Anasazi ruins at Chaco Canyon New Mexico continues to inform his work.
Feodorov is interested in creating art that both engages and confronts the viewer; often utilizing pop culture detritus, as well as sound and video, to create works that question ideas and assumptions about Spirituality, Identity and Place. His work explores the longing for spiritual (re)connection that can be easily exploited by charlatans, corporations and political forces. In addition, his paintings and drawings are experiments in creating hybrid mythical iconographies that respond to issues such as environmental disasters, consumerism, and colonized identities.
Feodorov is currently an Associate Professor of Art at Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies at Western Washington University in Bellingham Washington. In 2001 he was featured in the first season of the PBS television series, “Art 21: Art for the 21st Century” as well as in the companion book published by Harry N. Abrams. His work also appears in such publications as Time and Time Again, by Lucy R. Lippard; Manifestations, edited by Nancy Marie Mithlo; and Art + Religion, edited by Aaron Rosen. He served as an Arts Commissioner for the City of Seattle and has worked as an artist/educator for various non-profit youth groups in the Seattle area.
My work meanders around meaning, identity and the ways we seek to locate them within our lives. Sometimes this search can seem like an act of desperation—a longing for a Something, an Other, that may or may not exist. My work is a reflection of how I try to balance this subconscious longing within my own life. Often ambiguous and dreamlike, they employ what I like to call “Implied Significance”, a meaningful narrative that may not exist outside the mind of the viewer. My installations, assemblages and video works are often documents of my failed attempts to resolve the contradictions between a desire for a sense of “authentic” connection and the manipulative influences of global capitalism and systems of power. Recently, my work has taken on a greater urgency as political and corporate interests become more brazen in claiming and exploiting indigenous land and polluting the planet for profit. While I am not interested in making topical works, my goal is that my art acts as a catalyst for critical thinking, awareness-building and personal reflection.
Years ago I visited the Anasazi ruins at Chaco Canyon N.M., near my grandparent’s homestead, during the much-hyped Harmonic Convergence, when people were gathering at numerous sacred sites around the world. Inside one of the large kivas, a group of spiritual pilgrims formed a circle sitting in lotus position. In the center they erected a plastic totem pole, an object possessing no significance to native peoples of the Southwest. For me, this well-intentioned (if insulting) act seemed more like spiritual desecration than spiritual connection. It is these kinds of sincere yet misguided acts that intrigue me as an artist.
I believe one of the most important things art can do is trigger a disruption of our conscious selves; questioning and overturning our checkerboard of assumptions and opinions. And perhaps this disruption is the most important kind of “spiritual experience” we can have. This is the primary purpose behind the art I create.