Isaac Powell is a graduate of the MFA program at Washington State University who now teaches painting and drawing at Eastern Kentucky University. Powell interweaves the themes of life, growth, reproduction, and creativity with those of his own personal history in his still life depictions. Having been born without a right hand, the flora in his work directly references the body, its appendages and digits. By addressing his own anxieties through the imagery of plant cuttings and graftings, he has developed his own vocabulary for confronting both awkwardness and beauty. Powell’s work has been exhibited recently at the prestigious Armory Show in New York City and was featured in VSA’s 2010 Revealing Culture exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution’s International Gallery. Recent exhibitions include those at Gallery 1724 in Houston Texas, Blackfish Gallery in Portland Oregon, and in Cincinnati Ohio at Manifest Creative Research Gallery and Drawing Center. In 2005 Powell was awarded $20,000 for his work “Growthplate” which was exhibited at the S. Dillion Ripley Center of the Smithsonian Institution.
At the basis of my recent paintings lie my fears associated with being born devoid of a hand. In the paintings I transform personal descriptions of hands and prosthetics into my own visual vocabulary that includes an assortment of botanical representations in various states of definition. Plants act as visual placeholders for hands, prosthetics, and my birth defect. Typically during the process of painting, I set up problems for myself; these oppositions can pertain to subject matter, concept, or formal elements. Throughout the development of the work, collisions happen between many different types of problems. I find that in the process, vitality happens when I am able to locate, and solve both the organic, and the self-imposed visual equations at the same time. Often, the image retains the leftover residue, something lurking just underneath, and the important visual trajectories of the initial problem or equation. My solution often involves plants and flowers in various states of definition, that make me think of the differences between my right arm, which was damaged prenatally, and my left.
One of the most rewarding things about teaching
Never really considered it a serious method of study
They kind of encompassed a greater variety of art
Sustained effort it takes to create good art
My love for the outdoors