Distant Visions: John Woolsey
September 15 – December 30, 2023
Distant Visions showcases over 70 works by Philadelphia-based artist John D. Woolsey. The exhibition provides a glimpse into Woolsey’s multi-faceted creative process that involves cycles of deconstruction and renewal. The artist’s woodcut prints are cut up or dissected into bands and shard-like shapes, then refashioned into new compositions. These excerpted visual elements are often repeated in multiple compositions and integrated with other components to create a new experience.
A focal point of the exhibition is Woolsey’s massive wall installation that incorporates an array of restructured prints. The inventively-shaped works—brought together in the 15 foot installation—include fan-shaped designs, tondos, and formats that resemble circular saw blades. The artist states that the imagery in his woodcuts are “transformed from my drawings, where I’ve documented light seen through woods; sky, and forest reflected in water; microscope-viewed cross sections of wood or other plant material.”
Woolsey’s time spent on the Maine coast observing the environment and woodland flora has had a profound impact on his work. His prolonged contemplation of trees, rocks and foliage result in depictions that embrace complexity and age. Woolsey comments, “The process of transformation and the multiple scales of time (human, historical, geological) has been an emphasis in this body of work.”
Left: JOHN WOOLSEY (American, born 1945). Fire Map, 2020. Watercolor and gouache on woodcut collage, mounted on panel. Courtesy of the artist.
Right: JOHN WOOLSEY (American, born 1945). Fan #19 (Scalloped Edge), 2021. Restructured woodcut on cream Japanese paper. Courtesy of the artist.