Third Place: John R.G. Roth
John R.G. Roth, Cenotaph for the Blithely Alacritous, 2020. Cherry, digital image, model scenery, epoxy clay, 20” x 10” x 30”. (top)
John R.G. Roth, Anthropocene Reliquary, 2021. Ebonized ash, digital photo, model scenery, found bone, 21” x 11” x 32”. (bottom)
“These works represent an account of myself as a maker and my very early interest in miniature worlds.
The people of Iceland are making an effort to replace trees that were harvested since the year 1000. This forestry/tree farming was very thought provoking to me during and after my visit. Cenotaph for the Blithely Alacritous is the memorial for the forests harvested in an unsustainable fashion. Anthropocene Reliquary obliquely references the effects of human-kind’s extractive economic model on our life support system. This “reliquary” is both a memento and evidence of past activity.
My most recent works represent a transition that is occurring in my studio practice. Earlier concerns with polymorphic hybrid forms have progressed to include speculative environments to create context. These early forms originated from an interest in anthropomorphism and were partially informed by Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel, Oryx and Crake. Her novel is a vivid depiction of genetic manipulation gone wrong. These new contexts originate from a long-time interest in the interactions of human activity on the landscape and the use of model landscape materials I’ve used for model trains since my middle school years.
In 2016, I spent September at the Gullkistan artist residency in Iceland. That location was a jumping off point for exploring and photographing the various natural features that in many cases serve as the backdrops for my latest diorama works. With this format, I’m working on the nexus of the photograph/model that has emerged from a variant of the film technique of rear screen projection. In these works I hope to invite viewers into a space for contemplation that provokes questions about simulation, display, perception and the human impact on our natural world.”
John R.G. Roth was raised in the Chicago area. He earned a BS Art Education and Industrial Arts Education from Northern Michigan University, and an MFA in Sculpture and Painting from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Before entering university, Roth worked in construction, on dairy farms, in retail management, in a lumber mill, and as a maintenance mechanic in a foundry, furniture factory, and chemical plant. He also taught K-6th grade art in a four-room schoolhouse in rural Michigan. During graduate school, he was employed as a technician in a contract industrial research laboratory where he fabricated laboratory apparatus, models, prototypes and performed destructive testing.
Roth has shown his sculpture in New York, London, Ottawa ON, Chicago, Miami, and Los Angeles. He’s been teaching sculpture for the past 27 years and currently holds the position of Associate Professor and Chair of the Art Department at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.