Statement of Interest
I first encountered John Clifford Bryant in front of the Expressions Gallery in Berkeley on August 7, 2001. We introduced ourselves after dropping off our art for the “Beat of the Drum” exhibit currently on display from August 14- October 22, 2010. There was an instant connection as we learned about each other and our art. I asked if I could make this photograph and he agreed.
As we talked, I discovered the extent of John’s exploration and accomplishment with almost every art medium available and his history blew me away. He talked about seeing the Emeryville mudflat sculptures in the 1960s and deciding that the existing trio of driftwood musicians needed a conga player and he created one. He talked about being an artist in residence at the Rockridge Library and donating an artwork to the Oakland Museum. The piece is now part of the permanent collection. He talked about meeting a professor at the California College of Arts and Crafts who offered him a piece of mastodon bone that John carved into intricate miniature sculptures. He carries these beautiful tiny sculptures in case the size of a lipstick.
John’s work often includes found or recycled objects. What he does with the materials is astounding. All of this would be enough to leave me in awe of his creativity, but the topper is this part of his artist’s statement: “Over the past years, I have fostered relationships with many artists of different artistic and cultural backgrounds which helped me to expand my horizons and develop an appreciation of other art forms. Being a black artist, I regard my work as a contribution to Black History.”
This meeting of the minds between a white photographer who grew up in Connecticut and a black artist who grew up in Louisiana inspired me to submit this portrait of John Clifford Bryant.