Burial, Acrylic on canvas, 6' x 6', 2017

In his own words:

I am an artist living and working in Iowa City, Iowa.

Born in Kentucky, raised in Ohio, and currently residing in Iowa, I am very interested in the Midwest -- for both its charm as well as its challenges.

I am particularly interested in the Midwestern landscape, its total transformation through agriculture, and the political, social, and environmental consequences of that change. Some of my paintings also explore the complicated nexus of food, agriculture, nostalgia, and marketing.

I work as the Director of Public Art for the Iowa City Downtown District and teach in the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids area. During the Summer months I also run a tiny bakery that sells at the Iowa City Farmers' Market.

About the work:

Commuting back and forth to Cedar Rapids, I often turned off the interstate in North Liberty to take a quick spin through farmland on my way back to Iowa City. A new high school condemned that last patch of farmland to development - the definition of "pioneering sprawl" - and I watched as a favorite farmstead was razed to the ground. The subsequent reformatting of the land has been seductively dramatic, and this fall I created work responding to the uncompromising destruction and contextless reconstruction of Scanlon Farm into Scanlon Farms North Ridge. The land was ripped open, pushed around, rebuilt, and then sutured together with black erosion fence, creating a sterilized and entirely unrecognizable topography.

I approached my work with a similar mindset, creating paintings and drawings with a process informed by the same forceful and aggressive handling of the landscape. Working on site, I sought to capture the expansive and spectacular landscapes that would often appear and disappear in the course of an afternoon. I approached larger studio works with the same kind of additive and subtractive energy and force I witnessed edit that once pastoral part of my drive. The resulting drawings and paintings depict a dramatic, transitional landscape of false geologic scale, scattered with the arbitrary punctuations of surveying flags and sewage mains.

Thomas Agran's website

This page was first displayed
on April 03, 2018

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