Alan Powell has been working as a visual artist for over fifty years. From 1971 until the mid 1990’s, he worked almost exclusively with video and electronic imaging, but has expanded to working with acrylic, gouache, iPad Procreate, collage work, and photographic work. Powell was a founding member of the Electron Movers, Providence, Rhode Island’s first Media Arts Center after completing a B.F.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design and a M.F.A. from Mason Gross School of Art, Rutgers University.
His video work, in collaboration with his late partner Connie Coleman, spans thirty years and has been exhibited at The Kitchen, The Alternative Museum, and The Museum of the Moving Image in New York, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, The Long Beach Museum in California, and the Musee d’Arte Moderne in Paris.
Powell spends his time between Philadelphia, where he is a professor emeritus of media and communications at Arcadia University and Fleischmanns, NY, where his main studio is located. He continues to work with electronic media as well as physical art mediums including drawings made with iPad Procreate, paintings made with acrylic and gouache and constructions.. In recent years, Powell has become invested in man’s relationship to the world around him; he has channelled this into his artwork via political installation pieces (see Trump Dump) and a collection of nature paintings. In addition to being a professor and an artist he is also a board member of Signal Culture, and TermiteTV video collective. Powell’s work and collaborations can be found at alanpowellartist.com as well as his archives.
I have over forty years experience as an exhibiting artist. My primary reputation is as a video artist working in single channel videotapes and video installation. My core values are that of a painter. I turned to video in the 1970’s to look at the world using time and the video camera as a window into the world I was experiencing. Throughout the 1970’s- 1990’s I worked in collaboration with artist, Connie Coleman. We were artist –in-residence at the Experimental Tv Center for 13 years. Connie Coleman past away in 2011, the collaboration continues as I rework any artwork that was started under the Coleman/Powell collaboration and not signed off as finished. This includes raw video and unfinished prints.
Starting in 2001, I began mixing digital photography, web works, and traditional art media with my video work. Digital devices, video cameras , DSLR’s ,iPads, go-pro like cameras and cell phones have replaced the sketch book as my means of gathering information about the world. Digital photography has become the center point in the practice branching out into print making, archival inkjets, video animation, web work, and even painting.
I have a long relationship with the forest and nature. As a child I spent my summers on my grandfather’s tree farm and as a teenage I learned wilderness survival in Canada. I have always struggled with the relationship between art and nature. I think it is important that as an artist, I develop work about nature that goes beyond its physical beauty. Electronic technology has allowed me to develop ways of looking and experiencing the natural world using time, sound, and motion as the other qualities that define a natural space. I have also started to use the technologies of 3-D imaging and modeling as a way of documenting those experiences. When I go into the forest or into a wetland. I use many sorts of electronic tools to document my experience. Each type of camera, lenses, and microphones record the environment in different ways. I use image and sound processing to enhance and personalize the documented experience. My video tapes no longer function as experimental narratives but electronic paintings that change over time. The work is now exhibited in galleries on looping media players on flat screens or projectors but also on instagram and Vimeo replacing the broadcast model.
My work has always been connected to social process and human experience. My undergraduate education was classic modernism and formalism . Inn hindsight I drifted into both photography and video because the narrative was still very much alive in these media. My graduate work focused on Marxism, Post Marxism and Post Structuralism and the construct of reality and values as it meshed in electronic media and its influence in defining our reality. The artwork from 1983 - 2020 always was constructed through a political lens. This culminated with the “Trump Dump” a four year investigation into the madness of not only Trump but also within the American culture both embracing it and trying erase it like it did’t exist. The Trump Dump was both aggressively censored and praised. January 6 2021 became the spectacle that certainly overpowered the artwork that predicted it. From that worked I returned to working in the Disability Community.. ( Studio 190) giving voice to the world a seen by people with disabilities who have a different perception of the work. The “Hidden Garden “ and “Black Flower “installations and prints come from my photo documentation of Studio 190 and their manufacturing of painted flowers as a support product. I have also returned to looking at nature and giving nature a voice that doesn’t romanticize it as it struggles with Climate change and the manmade upheaval of our environment. The current work includes video installations, wildlife photography, print making. All of it ultimately look at life and its processes.
Since moving to the Catskills in 2013, I have rediscovered that intense involvement I had with nature as a child. In the Catskill community I have found a rich mix of different kinds of people and a rich cultural and artistic heritage. I have allowed the last ten years to be an open ended exploration and conversation with my art making processes and materials.