Jon Kerpel

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   I was born in New York City in 1950 and received my formal art education with a sponsorship to the School of Visual Arts. There I was instrumental in helping to run a progressive figurative workshop for four years. In 1977 I had my first one-person show at 47 Bond Street Gallery. Then in 1980 I had a life-changing experience when I attended a workshop at Arcosanti, an experimental city combining architecture with ecology in the Arizona desert. I then left New York City permanently and lived near Arcosanti for two years. As a result, my art form departed from a formal figurative style and became focused on animals and their relationship to the environment.
   The artworks I create are all about the creatures of planet earth, big and small alike. Animals, whether ocean fish, bees, frogs or land mammals, are a key part of the web of life whereby each is dependent upon the others. They are the essence of a natural world now going through one of the severest upheavals and transitions in modern history. If we lose too many pieces of this delicate web, the rest are not able to survive on their own. Humans too exist as part of this web. There are over 7 billion people on the planet also needing food and other limited resources. No matter what nation, race, religion or culture, our survival depends on our environment and the creatures that inhabit our land, sea and air.
   Planet earth is on my mind as I immerse myself in every artwork I create. As I set to task in my studio I am constantly asking myself how can my artworks have a positive effect on our delicate environment? I am always searching for ways to make the creature world more visible and to attract more positive attention to it through my creations. My sculptures take the form of temples and shrines in order to affirm the importance of the natural world. Some artworks are reactions to world events or tributes to environmental pioneers. I often combine jewels and shiny objects with animal imagery. When you stop and think about it, at some point there is no difference - creatures are the jewels of our planet and we need to view them as such. Whether for food, medicine, pollination or pets, creatures are an integral part of our lives. Our environment is everything; without it we have nothing.
  The materials used in my artworks are 95-100% recycled/repurposed, including wood, laminated aluminum, animal figurines, beads and other findings. Essentially, I compose already made objects into art much like a composer does with musical notes. My artistic process begins with the hunting and gathering of materials, usually from local garage sales, flea markets and even neighbors’ cast-offs. I bring them into my studio where the objects may be immediately transformed into art or else added to the overflowing array of pieces that may sit for months before their use becomes clear to me. I usually work on multiple artworks simultaneously as I acquire new materials and relate them to works in progress or else to completely new ideas.

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