5 minute read

JP Morrison Lans

Tulsa, OK, USA

JP Morrison Lans’ work contrasts realistic figurative depictions with abstracted representations of the mind, this work has earned seven solo exhibitions and the commission of three large-scale installations. She has lived in Kansas City, where she received her BFA from KCAI in 2007, and co-owned and curated the Grothaus+Pearl Gallery, and also in Queensland Australia, where her work was acquired for the collection of the Bundaberg Regional Gallery. In 2021 JP garnered two residencies, at SVA and the Truro Art Center. She and her child currently experiment with encaustics and play-doh -respectively- in their home studio in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Who or what has a lasting influence on your art practice?

I drew faceless figurative work from age eleven to twenty, and discovered the following connection after I’d stopped. I attended a Waldorf preschool and kindergarten, the only organized school I would attend until college. However, the curated environment that placed great value on developing imagination, left a lasting vibration of esthetics within me. Waldorf surrounds children with natural materials and figurative toys that are deliberately faceless. Playing with these faceless and soft edged toys allowed me to realize how much of the human experience happens within our minds or extends through parts of our bodies beyond the billboard of our face; allowing me the space to build complex worlds and relationships within myself.

What is the most challenging aspect of being an artist?

There is a blend of bravado and vulnerability that is very challenging to maintain. The bravado is required in order to believe I can take the world into myself, process it and then render back out anything meaningful, the vulnerability is necessary to make this both a worthwhile process and outcome. I have to risk exposing a part of my inner self, or the work is superficial, and I know it shows when I play safe. There is also the duality of needing to play, like a wild ridiculous child while making the artwork, and to believe in that child’s choices while at the same time cultivating a shrewd critical eye toward the finished results.

In your opinion what does art mean in contemporary culture?

Art allows us to express our impression of life without the boundaries of words. We humans are the Naming Apes, and with that power to codify we also trap each thing and experience into existing only within the confines of its definition. If there is not a word for it, can it be known? If there are words, can they truly hold the contradictory nature of our passion? Could we truely share with someone who sees in only black and white what the color red is via our language? Or describe smell to the noseless? Art allows us to bypass and augment the inevitable abbreviations we use to express ourselves linguistically to touch at communicating more fully outside of terms.

How would you describe the art scene in your area?

It’s amazing. I love it. I live in Tulsa, Oklahoma, about as far away in the US as you can get from either “coastal art scene”. However, we have a fierce and vibrant creative community. We support each other and it is a healthy challenge to make art in a place that isn’t as populated with supportive admiration for art as the “big city” scenes might. Artwork produced in smaller communities is often seen by people who aren’t part of that scene or seeking it out. This art has the opportunity to have a unique impact and be seen by those who might be dubious toward it. In the best scenarios that can change someone. For these reasons we should value our small town art scenes as crucial harbors for creative exploration.

What do you like/dislike about the art world?

I like my community, I like artists and shoptalk and geeking out about techniques. I dislike status signalling. which circles back to dualities. Maybe I need some of that to make a living. But there is a pantomime of profundity in the echelons of the art world that is unfortunate.

Name three artists you admire.

Julie Farstad. Farstad has recently created “Flowers for Marlborough”, in which she is placing her beautiful paintings of native plants on boarded up windows in her neighborhood. The project points elegantly at the importance of valuing native flora within our communities, the trauma wrought by urban blight alongside a tool to overcome and in that, how a painting is a valid and powerful social tool for change.

Black Moon Collective. Black Moon is a collective of black artists working here in Tulsa. They are what a collective of artists working together should aspire to, lifting each other up just as they do our art community. This city has been better since they began their work here.

KC Crow Maddux. Maddux’s figurative work defies categorization, being sculptural, painted, and photographic and that is the point, as the artist says, “antagonizing conventions”. As a figurative artist Maddux is simultaneously creating a relatable form while completely rewriting the genre.

What are your future plans?

I’m looking for new gallery relationships for this recent body of work, and researching residencies that are family inclusive. I would love to see more residencies accept children at their programs. Time and space are often noted as benefits of a program and many residencies seem to believe that means time separate from family. I would like to see that choice left up to the artists, many of whom can’t afford such arrangements either emotionally or financially. It is a policy that excludes nursing parents, and can help to stall the career of procreating artists. Also in my case, proximity to my family is an informant to the work. Beyond finding platforms for that soapbox I’m looking forward to continuing to travel with my work. I will be visiting Albuquerque, New Mexico, in September for a group exhibition at A. Hurd Gallery and in January travel to Washington State for a residency at Rockland Wood.