Artist Statement

I'm a visual artist, poet, novelist and street medic, living in Philadelphia since 1964. I  work in acrylic, water color, pen and ink and woodcut prints, and make from trash I find on the street. I sign my art with my birth name, <em>Willard</em>... in memory of my maternal grandfather who died two weeks before I was born, and out of love and respect for my Uncle, Willard Hardin--who was both big brother and mentor.

My thinking about representation, and abstraction in art, I've been influenced by James Elkins: Xix Stories from the End of Representation, and the philosopher, Levi Paul Bryant--in particular, where he writes about the intersecting rings of the material and the symbolic. I think that abstract art, when it moves beyond pleasing the eye with color and pattern, can present the viewer with an enigma, an <em>aporia</em>, that suggests the possibility of symbolic meaning--while denying its realization. If, as I believe, all of our encounters with material reality, are invested with latent symbolic power--by forestalling that power it's emergence, retaining it at the threshold, just out of reach-- where it cannot be translated into language, or interpreted as anything other than what it is---mind, imagination, and perception, by this denial of closure, will remain radially open, and in this, we might yet find our way to a truly revolutionary vision
Jacob Russell is my pen name. To my friends and comrades, I am