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John Westmark’s paintings convey a heightened attention to detail and strong sense of
compositional harmony that allow conceptual elements to be seamlessly woven through the
narrative without diminishing the aesthetic of the work. The primary material used in his work
is store-bought paper sewing patterns applied directly to the canvas. The patterns are
reinterpreted outside of their usual functional context as garment templates to create a subtle
intellectual dialogue that speaks of sociopolitical issues and gender. The female figure is presented as an agent of revolt, stoic martyr, or fantastical being. In every instance the identity of the figure(s) is denied by wraps, bonnets and bound faces, suggesting an anonymous “everywoman” or
By embellishing the garment patterns with custom text from contemporary feminist writing
and criticism, Westmark creates a conceptual narrative alongside the existing material narrative of
imprinted assembly instructions. This added textual narrative disrupts the nostalgic or stereotypical
notion of “women’s work” and admits an aggressive feminist dialogue into the visual conversation.
The viewer is asked to read both the text embedded surface and the image.
Painter John Westmark creates figurative mixed media paintings that use vintage sewing patterns to create anonymous figures.
Raised in the South, John Westmark’s first experience with artmaking was watching his mother draw on scraps of paper during long Babtist sermons. Today he is a painter who is interested in the metaphysical potential of unorthodox painting materials.
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