W. David Powell

Artist Statement

Collecting old books and ephemera is necessary for this type of work. These books, many of which are rescued from dumps or bought by the box from library sales, contain the residue of our material culture. Artifacts such as these are rapidly disappearing as our visual culture becomes intangible, transitory and ahistoric.

I am increasingly interested in the 19th century, when knowledge was shared and scientific pursuit was part of a holistic “natural philosophy,” not a narrow search for new weapons or drugs. Since the advent of the 20th century, it seems we have lost much of our child-like wonder and awe for a universe that presents us with new marvels every moment that we are sensitive and open to receiving its gifts. The need to quantify existence has become a shackle to science and education.

In the 21st century, the digital world brings us closer together and simultaneously dematerializes the physical world. Text messaging and mp3s replace conversation and music making. The distractions and entertainments of the digital world remove us from the natural world and the real community around us. The media and its 24/7 news cycle (mis)informs us with an Orwellian doublespeak that inhibits the social interaction and intellectual climate that could otherwise encourage living generously and receptively in the world.

The work is not meant to teach or preach, but to present images from a variety of sources in new configurations that might provoke curiosity, promote reflection on what we know and think we know, and challenge our habitual thinking. 

- W. David Powell

 

Artist Biography

A native of Southwest Georgia, David moved to Vermont after spending time in London and Ibiza, Spain. While in London, he showed jointly with ex-pat Australians at Sigi Krauss Gallery, as well as at a solo show there called Crisis in Modern Art. On his return to Georgia, he founded Wonder Graphics and did album cover art for the music industry. The album cover for Eat a Peach by the Allman Brothers Band was his most widely published of this type of work and was selected by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the top 100 album covers of all time. His work from this era was also recently used as the endpapers for the best-selling history of the Allman Brothers Band, "One Way Out," by Alan Paul.

A year after returning to Georgia, David moved to Vermont where he has remained since 1972. He founded Porcupine Graphics, a t-shirt printing business in 1975, where he did printing for many Vermont country stores, as well as for Ben & Jerry's, Woody Jackson, and Vermont Castings. He continued to do his own personal artwork throughout these years. After five years as Art Director for Computer Games Magazine in Burlington, he started graduate school at Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier where he received a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Visual Art. After receiving his degree in 2001, he became a Professor of Art at Plattsburgh State University in New York where he teaches Graphic Design.

Powell's work has been shown in galleries and museums throughout Vermont, as well as in Massachusetts and New York. He has recently shown at the Vermont Supreme Court in 2014 and the Julian Scott Gallery of Johnson State College with Peter Thomashow in a show called Powell & Thomashow's Exposition of Matter and Magnetism. Other recent exhibits include a solo show at Adventureland in Chicago in December 2014 and in January 2015, another joint show with Thomashow at Helen Day Art Center in Stowe.

His work is in the collections of the Fleming Museum, Hampshire College, New York Public Library, University of Pittsburgh, Smith College, University of Vermont's Special Collections and Yale, as well as numerous private collections.