jack toolin

Artist Statement

My interests lay in the threshold between the individual and the social–in the ways that complex, fluctuating, social conditions affect individual agency and group dynamics. Economics, globalization, urbanization are some areas of culture that I research and reflect upon as part of these interests. The repercussions of these phenomena can be seen in the physical and psychological states of people in all strata of life and in their environments as well–they are visible in subtle and palpable ways. My art expresses these concerns explicitly or implicitly, with the goal of engaging viewers to reflect upon their own experiences.

My creative process has evolved to include multiple forms of practice, including photography, installation, performance, and new media: forms that employ time, space and physicality. Ultimately, concept and content are of primary importance, as a process, or an aesthetic, that isn’t grounded in concept is unfulfilling. Aesthetics are the language I use to generate cerebral and/or visceral responses that extend beyond the artwork. While I generally avoid being didactic (I do not feel antipathy towards it), I strive to converse with viewers about the philosophical, psychological and political challenges of life in our time.

Photography strongly influenced my artistic sensibility as it was my entry point into making art when I was a teenager. It is photography’s combination of the technical and aesthetic, the objective and subjective, the internal and external, that engenders my love for the medium. Recording the visual world is similar to and yet quite different from simply looking at the world– it has the potential to connect one’s inner dialogue with the physicality of the world, creating selective traces that linger for future sharing and consideration. It also facilitates the viewers’ pause to reconsider what may have been dismissed, or not seen at all, by the mere passerby. My relationship to the world around me is an important aspect of my art practice: regardless of what medium I work with, my concerns are grounded in the physical manifestations of the social-political arena. Photography encouraged that instinct.