Artist Statement


E-mail: jkadircannon@gmail.com



My work is abstractly narrative and highly textural. The driving force behind my work is grappling with ethics, awareness, ideas (verbal and non-verbal), and conscious and unconscious poetic imagery. Many of my art pieces are about seeking mythical truths. In some work I have incorporated lights within the work itself. I’ve been conceptually and visually fascinated with having artwork supply its own lighting, both physically and metaphysically. This has also enabled me to utilize shadows as part of the composition.

Too often visual art is seen as something inactive to be casually hung on a wall to be passively viewed. For me, the visual arts should be part of a dynamic discourse about what it means to be human. That’s why I have recently welcomed and found exciting combining my art with a symposium about the effects of war.

This year I exhibited my Anguished Art: Outcries for Peace solo show at Wilmington College in Ohio. I also presented my movie/performance, Who's Telling Our Story at the College's Westheimer Peace Symposium. This symposium on war and peace provided an opportunity for my art to be a catalyst for discussion. Various faculty members, from psychology, English, history, and art departments, viewed my exhibition with their students as a vehicle for teaching and learning about issues in their respective fields. Movie-making has also allowed me to explore another avenue for my performance art.

Last year, in conjunction with my solo exhibit Anguished Art Franklin & Marshall College, students and I organized a symposium with several speakers on the Human Cost of War. The event, combining my art with poetry, information, and discussion, had a strong impact on students and community members. Art can offer an emotional, contemplative, and symbolic component to political discussions that is different from lectures with facts and figures and verbal analyses. Both are needed and both offer a fuller understanding of the issues.


Known primarily for the elemental naturalism and poetic symbolism of my prior art work, I was forced to redirect my work with mythological and spiritual themes after 9-11 and the beginning of America’s war on terror. The abrupt change in the visual direction of my art occurred as I pondered the horrors the human animal is capable of inflicting on itself. I was seeing the stuff of nightmares on my television screen, on the front page of the newspaper, and in reports on the Internet. An artist can’t ignore these images. The only way I knew how to respond to my own feelings of disgust, anguish, and despair was to work with these images and try to make sense of their causes and their impact on our lives. Though still mythical and spiritual, my pieces are also didactic, critical, and political.


My recent work not only depicts the suffering, but also points to the causes of this brutality. Through my artwork, I portray the arrogance of extreme nationalism and blind patriotism, the arrogance of religious fanaticism, and the greed of unchecked corporate power. Einstein once said that nationalism is the scar on the face of humanity. And Eisenhower warned us decades ago about the dangers of the military-industrial complex. In our personal and foreign policies, we are not heeding these prescient warnings. Blood for oil. Greed for power. Greed for material objects. Wastefulness of a consumer society. I am compelled to bring these issues into my work so we can confront them as a society. That is the artist’s job—to hold up a mirror. This isn’t pretty. We have to change these nightmarish images.