John Acorn Sculptor

WIP-SERIES

SERIES

“Sixty plus years ago, in 1955, I began to get serious about making art when I attended Montclair State University in New Jersey as an art major. I’ve been at it ever since.”

 

“The work that you see here is a sampling from the 1960s up to the present. My usual pattern of working is to take an object or an idea and work on it until it gives up or I give up. There are three major series of work and a number of minor ones. The major ones are titled “Reflections on the Twentieth Century,” “Camouflage Man,” and the “Pistols Series.” 

Trailer Nails — 2007 - 2009

I discovered “trailer nails” in a local hardware store in the 1960’s. They were used in the construction of house trailers, attaching metal sheeting to wood.  I used them similarly in three dimensional sculpture pieces.*

Decades later I used them in creating two dimensional wall hung art works. I drew large drawings of a variety of objects from nature, —primarily shells, bones, feathers and even flattened pine cones found on the road by my studio.  I then defined the objects with “dots” which marked the location of each trailer nail which were then laboriously predrilled and hammered into place. The technique and sheer volume of individual works I created, one as large as 44 by 78 inches, might well qualify me as having obsessive compulsive disorder. 

Certainly, over the last five decades I have pounded hundreds of thousands of trailer nails and upholstery nails into a variety of art objects. By far the largest artwork is a staircase commissioned by the Anderson Arts Center Warehouse (See Commissions).

*See Early Work – Mixed Media

Fish Heads — 1998 - 2014

I was introduced to the spirit or art of fishing as a teenager fishing in the Passaic River, catching carp. In the 1960s-1970s I discovered trout fishing in the Chattooga River, an easy drive from my home in Pendleton, SC. Then I discovered Sunset Beach, NC where I vacationed with my family. More fishing! Not serious fishing, but enjoying the outdoors along the coast.

Over the years, I cut off a good number of fish heads.  For some reason, as a sculptor, I decided to make fish heads in wood and then had them fabricated in steel plate.

Beans - Early 1980s

In 1964 my wife and I purchased a home in Pendleton, SC with a large yard.  The previous owner, the town doctor, gardened for a hobby and we inherited a garden plot with rich, black top soil.  I decided to become a gardener. You name it and I planted it, giving away the surplus produce in boxes I set out by the sidewalk. 

For some reason I was very attracted to the shape and form of green beans. I decided to make a sculpture piece in that shape and form in cast aluminum. I became addicted to the form and confess to making a lot of others in wood, wood and paint, trailer nails and also experimented with encasing them in acrylic. 

Reflections on the 20th Century - Early 1990’s

Born in 1937, my childhood was strongly affected by World War II.  My father was an avid reader of all the newspapers from New York City as well as the weekly Life Magazine. Through these I saw many photographs and images of the war. In addition to these I also saw photos brought back from overseas by men in my neighborhood who had served in the war. Some of those images and the soldier’s stories that went with them were haunting.  In the 1990’s I decided to reflect back on those visual memories and create a series in wood, metal, paint and nails.

Pistols 2000 - present

Project Pistols

In May 2000 I was invited to display a few of my camouflage men at the Tryon Center for the Arts (now McColl Center) in Charlotte, NC. This small exhibition of my “hunting men” was timed to coincide with the annual meeting of the National Rifle Association in that city.  Newspapers, magazines and television were awash in pieces about “gun rights”  as NRA President Charlton Heston raised his rifle above his head and declared to the assembly that his rifle would only be taken away from his “cold, dead hands.”   

Fear for personal safety seemed rampant in the culture and the sale of personal firearms took off.  I found myself overwhelmed, even stupefied by the sight of so many advertisements for hand gun sales at pawn shops, sporting goods stores and gun shows that seemed to pop up everywhere.  In my studio I began cutting out toylike “pistols” and assembling them into benign, everyday objects such as a quilt, as well as into constructions of a bloody tee-shirt and a single skull. 

In 2012 I had a one man show titled “Project Pistols” at the 701 Center for Contemporary Art in Columbia, SC that featured twenty sculptures and assemblages constructed of thousands of my cut out pistols.  (see also Exhibitions and articles in My Work/My Life) 

Angels and Pistols

Over the years I have cut out literally thousands of the nine-inch long, three quarter inch thick plywood pistols on my bandsaw.  Since 2015 I have used pistols, painted flat black, as surrounds or miniature niches for ceramic angels and cherubs.  

Profile Head of a Woman

 The profile heads of a woman began with a drawing on a piece of chipboard in my studio a few decades ago. I made the first profile using half-inch Douglas fir plywood, aluminum plate and trailer nails. 

 I often worked in my studio in the evening. I noticed the shadow of the first profile on my workbench. I traced the shadow on another piece of chipboard. I then made a profile with its shadow. I was hooked. I created eighteen more variations on the profile head of a woman. I thought this twenty was the end of the series and they were photographed and published in the College of Architecture Semester Review, Fall 1979

 As it turned out those twenty profile heads were not the end. lvinar dapibus leo.

Series II

In high school I discovered the art of Africa from books. I then discovered the real African art in New York City including a wonderful gallery on Tenth Street where I saw a Janus head from Africa. I knew that I had to make a woman’s profile head as a Janus figure. She became the first of a second series of profile heads, numbering at least another twenty pieces.

Early Work (Welded work; castings in bronze and aluminum; mixed media: wood, metal and fiberglass)
 
Fulbright: West Berlin
 
Profile of a Woman’s Head
 
Beans
 
Reflections on The 20th Century
 
Camouflage Men
 
Fish Heads
 
Trailer Nails
Recent Work (Low-relief paintings; Fish: chrome tape & upholstery nails; Hand, Fish & Loaf; Torres-Garcia)
 
Commissions