Enriching the Arts

Featured Artist: John Hoyt, ASA

John Hoyt the White Rabbit and the Sacred Herm

John Hoyt, The White Rabbit and the Sacred Herm


As a very young and naïve teen-ager I spent a year with my parents and younger sister driving across Europe in a VW camper; from southern Spain to north of the Arctic Circle, with long pauses in several places to study languages and culture and to see and make art. This seems to have set the pattern for the next 50 years of my life: art, languages, and the fascinating oddities of other cultures have been a focus ever since. I continue to make, study, and teach art, to travel, and to work and socialize in other languages (French and German in particular).

My holidays are typically devoted to visiting art museums and archeological sites in Europe. In particular, I find myself drawn to the art of the Early Renaissance (all of which is religious on some level). There is a tentative and exploratory quality to this period – i.e. the 1400s both in Italy and Flanders – as if the artists felt they were on the brink of discovering a new way of seeing the world, but sensed that the goal would remain elusive.

John Hoyt, Saint Sebastian with Jack o Lantern and X-Ray Cat

John Hoyt, Saint Sebastian with Jack o Lantern and X-Ray Cat


ASA: Could you tell us about your influences?
John: As hinted above, important influences on my work include: a) the art of the Early Renaissance; b) Hellenistic and Late Antique art and philosophy; c) related Mythology (an odd mixture which includes Greco-Roman, Alice and Wonderland, the Christian tradition etc). In the course of the creative process, which includes dreaming and dissociative meditation, these influences begin to cross over into one another’s spaces; to meld and blur. The herms and jack-in-the boxes in my most recent images seem, in particular to represent a point of crossing; a bridge between realms.

John Hoyt, Lost Angel

John Hoyt, Lost Angel

ASA: Which body of work would you consider your most successful to date?
John: Since I currently have a dozen or so files of active “work-in-progress” images with a dozen or more images in each file, it can sometimes be difficult to reflect on the measure of “success” of a given series. Somewhat arbitrarily, I have chosen the “Sacred Herm” series as the most successful, partly because I am not actively working on it at the moment and currently have a few images from this series in a VAA/CARFAC show. The Herm series works for me in part because it puts together a number of loose narrative strands that seem to have been searching for resolution over the past few years.
Most viewers will find herms unfamiliar and a bit puzzling. I first became aware of them when visiting the archeological museum in Naples (near Pompeii). Basically a herm is a Classical portrait-sculpture on a stone column, often with genitals and an inscription. Herms are a common sight in museums devoted to the sculpture of the Classical/Hellenistic era. In Greco-Roman culture they were used as boundary markers, and signal the liminal zone between the wild and the tame, the cultivated and the uncultivated. As such, they represent on some level the approach I take throughout my work: travel, read, think, discuss . . . then go into a “zone,” free-associate, begin working with the resulting cascade of images.

To view more images in John’s member page, click here.

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