John Sebelius is a local Lawrence artist who uses his interest in people and their expressed individuality to create artworks inspired by human diversity.
John Sebelius is an interdisciplinary artist currently living in Lawrence, KS. John earned his Masters of Fine Art from the University of Kansas, as well as a Bachelors of Fine Art from the Rhode Island School of Design. His work has been featured in such magazines as: Harper’s, The Washington Post, and DETAILS, as well as mentions on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He has exhibited his art internationally and locally, including: Gallery Two in Sydney, Australia, Woods-Gerry Gallery in Providence, RI, Kansas City Artists Coalition, and the Chicago Art Institute.
Not only is he a prolific painter and illustrator, he is also a successful filmmaker. His documentaries have been shown at major film festivals, like the Austin Film Festival and the Free State Film Festival, and at The American School of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Due to his achievements and skill as an artist, Sebelius has been voted the Best Artist of 2014 and 2015 in Lawrence, KS. Currently, John teaches art at Washburn University and he is the Artist-In-Residence at The Stress Disorder Treatment Program, where he teaches art therapy to those suffering from PTSD.
For this week’s artist profile, the Cider Gallery interviewed the artist about the artistic direction for his most recent work. In this Q&A, the artist provides a personal reflection on his inspirations and his goals as an artist, as well as his current projects. During our discussion, he detailed his sources of inspiration, his current exhibition’s narrative, and his passion for teaching. Following this paragraph is the email correspondence, with minor grammatical corrections, between the Cider Gallery and the artist himself.
CG: What would you say is your primary source of inspiration?
JS: “One of my largest inspirations is people. A majority of my work focuses on lived experience amongst individuals from unconventional communities. This all began when I followed around Providence cab drivers for a year while at RISD. There was something unfamiliar and intimate about that type of investigative work I was drawn to. That process has continued in my work with investigation of residents of Slab City, CA, the American Biker, and Greek Life at KU.“
John Sebelius and Chris King, "You Had Your Chance," spray paint, acrylic, pen, ink on watercolor paper.
CG: Is there an underlying narrative that your current pieces follow?
JS: “My upcoming show at Cider Gallery this April Final Friday is "Superfans", a collaborative and experimental exhibition with artist and friend Chris King. We were both intrigued by the mania surrounding sports and political fans. It is a “with us or against us” mentality that we all experience, especially in today's caustic political landscape. Merging those two worlds together with color and texture was exciting for both of us. We didn't plan any of the pieces, shipping our large paper works back in forth from KS to Louisiana gave them a life and spontaneity that couldn't be planned.”
Dorothy XI, spray painting.
CG: Is there anything you wished to tell our readers about you or your work? Any recent recognitions you wished to discuss?
JS: “I am currently teaching Drawing and Design at Washburn University, but my real passion is teaching art to veterans suffering with PTSD at the VA. I created an art course "Artistic Expressions" at The Stress Disorder Treatment Program in Topeka a 7-week inpatient program for veterans who have experienced trauma. Over 200 veterans each year will participate in the course. It was important to provide the veterans with a non-verbal form of expression and establish a safe mental and physical space to explore their emotions and stories through a creative healing process. "Artistic Expressions" was recently awarded ARTSConnect TOPArts Access Grant to expand the program and create a gallery on the unit.”
We wished to thank the artist featured this week, John Sebelius, for this glimpse into his creative process. If you wished to see more of his work, he is featured in collaboration with Chris King in the up-and-coming Cider Gallery exhibition “Superfan,” opening this Friday the 28th. Come by between 5-9pm on Friday and enjoy the show!
All information provided by the artist. Check out his website for more information on his current projects. http://www.johnsebelius.com/index.html