John Grade Bio

John Grade

years with Cynthia-Reeves: 10
Curriculum Vitae (pdf)

Middlefork, Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Museum, DC, 2015-16
Canopy Tower, The Contemporary Austin permanent installation, 2015
Capacitor, Kohler Arts Center, WI, 2013
Wawona, Museum of History, Seattle, WA, permanent installation, 2012
Piedmont Divide, Emory University, permanent installation, 2011
Anchorage Art Museum, 2016
Elephant Bed, installation project, London, UK, 2011

John Grade’s work has a deep backstory in its natural inspiration, its materials, and/or its placement. More than the typical installation, it has continuity, both literal and symbolic. More than the typical artwork, it accepts the fluidity of time and the possibility of death and rebirth. –Janet Koplos, Sculpture Magazine, 2010

John Grade uses his conceptually and visually compelling sculptures as vessels to explore the cycles of the natural world. Often, the artist creates these works while envisioning their degradation through the impact of the elements. Grade’s sculptures are built from a combination of traditional materials like wood, resin and clay paired with novel polymers like corn and potato based resins and binderless paper castings. His sculptures are often immersed for extended periods of time in tidal bays, the high desert, or snow fields. Their slow decay is charted and documented via drawings, photographs, video and, ultimately, the transformed materials. Inspired by the erosion of the natural landscape, Grade hands over control of his art to this inevitable decomposition – a process that Grade describes as “an interesting conversation” between the landscape and the sculpture.”

Grade does not simply mimic shapes, forms, and textures of the natural world, he strives to decipher its “language.” In giving his work over to the elements —as an offering of sorts— he is inviting nature’s serendipitous information. It is a patient work; sculptures that languish in the elements require the artist to wait months, sometimes years, for a response. With Capacitor, however, the process of disintegration is removed, and the response from nature is immediate – weather made manifest as a captivating and wholly enveloping environment. “an interesting conversation” between the landscape and the sculpture.”

John Grade lives and works in Seattle, WA. The artist is the recipient of the 2010 Metcalf Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (NY), a Tiffany Foundation Award (NY), an Andy Warhol Foundation Award (NY), two Pollock-Krasner Foundation grants (NY), the 2011 Arlene Schnitzer Prize from the Portland Art Museum (OR), and the 2013 Arts Innovator Award from Artist Trust (WA). Past exhibitions include Fabrica (UK); L ‘H du Siege (France); Austin Contemporary Museum (TX); Portland Art Museum (OR); Kohler Arts Center (WI); Emory University, (GA); Boise Art Museum (ID); American Academy of Arts and Letters (NY), University of Wyoming Art Museum (WY); Bellevue Art Museum (WA); and Suyama Space (WA). Grade’s 65-foot sculpture Wawona is permanently installed at the Museum of History & Industry, Seattle (WA), where it breaks through the floor and ceiling of the building, bridging the water and sky. Exhibitions this year include “Wonder” at the Smithsonian Museum’s Renwick Gallery (DC), “Polar Lab” at the Anchorage Museum (AK) and site-specific sculptural installations in Portland (OR), Sun Valley (ID), Craters of the Moon National Monument (ID), and Lexington (KY).