Edificial Epistemologies, 2012-2019, mixed media, 13’x17′
I recently completed an MFA in Studio Art at the Maryland Instituted College of Art. The image above is from my thesis exhibition and represents a new direction for my work–an ongoing, modular drawing. I have several projects in the works, but I wrote a short artist’s statement to sum up my overarching interests and the foundation of my practice:
My practice is built around investigating Edificial Epistemologies—humanity’s efforts to construct knowledge into mental and physical architectures in a search for truth and transcendence. My research materials span from ancient cosmologies to speculative fictions and the myriad of philosophies, theologies, and aesthetics between.
This project manifests through various media and modes, but the scaffolding guiding the construction is an ongoing modular drawing. On these modules I map, diagram, and notate my research into a labyrinthine puzzle of references and structures that serve as a semantic gesture towards both the above mentioned concepts and, more simply, the aesthetic pleasure of thought.
I use drawing as my primary tool because drawing is thinking. It is a method of transcribing the intangibilities of thought into material substance. By drawing forth structures that can be seen, manipulated, and shared I make visible the abstract mental realm and create a dialog between ideas and reality. Like thoughts, these modules can be endlessly reconfigured, separated, dispersed, replaced, and updated.
In examining humanity’s projects and endeavors throughout time and space I begin to see the shadowy outline of a fragmented edifice crumbling towards heaven.
Working on my thesis show. Coming summer 2019!
I just finished this commissioned piece for a friend.
The Mechanism of Language. Jacob Rowan. Ink, graphite, and flashe paint on watercolor paper. 2018. 24″x12″
“In the illusory babel of language, an artist might advance specifically to get lost, and to intoxicate himself in dizzying syntaxes, seeking odd intersections of meaning, strange corridors of history, unexpected echoes, unknown humors, or voids of knowledge..but this quest is risky, full of bottomless fictions and endless architectures and counter-architectures…and at the end, if there is an end, are perhaps only meaningless reverberations…
Here language ‘covers’ rather than ‘discovers’ its sites and situations. Here, language ‘closes’ rather than ‘discloses’ doors to utilitarian interpretations and explanations. The language of the artists and critics become paradigmatic reflections in a looking-glass babel that is fabricated according to Pascal’s remark, ‘Nature is an infinite sphere, whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.’ Language becomes an infinite museum, whose center is everywhere and whose limits are nowhere.
Language is built not written… Words for mental processes are all derived from physical things.”
-Robert Smithson from “A Museum of Language in the Vicinity of Art”
WIP. Ink on watercolor paper
Working on a commission for a friend today.
“The eye is the first circle; the horizon which it forms is the second; and throughout nature this primary picture is repeated without end. It is the highest emblem in the cipher of the world.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, from his essay “Circles”
Circuit. Ink, acrylic, flashe, and mylar on watercolor paper. 24″x18″ © Jacob Rowan
Sumi ink and salt on watercolor paper