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John Toth

b. 1951
American

John Toth is an intermedia artist who has been collaborating with composers/musicians, choreographers/dancers, directors/actors, writers/poets, and teachers for more than thirty-five years. He has gained an international reputation for projecting multiple videos into large-scale fabric installations, a medium he attributes to a vivid early memory:

“As a child, I crawled under the quilting frame of my grandmother’s sewing circle. With my back to the cool basement floor, I watched as the sewing needles poked through the tightly stretched fabric. A bright light above the quilt illuminated the salvaged remnants of shirts and clothing that were transformed into brightly colored geometric patterns that bedazzled my eyes. Sitting around the perimeter, the husbands occasionally rose to readjust the clamps holding the quilt to the frame, testing the tension, aware of the surface. My everyday perception of my grandparent’s dark dreary basement was transformed by fabric and light into an aesthetic experience.

“…The basement light at my grandparents’ home was replaced by videos, slides, and data projectors to illuminate my installations with images of nature and abstract patterns of light. The collaboration of the women in the quilting bee has influenced me to seek out other collaborations with poets (Michael Basinski), choreographers (Ruby Shang, Holly Fairbank, and Doug Varone), composers (John Cage, Lejaren Hiller, James Emery, Don Metz), directors (Eric Nightengale, Terry Doran, Shelley Want), actors (Jean Taylor, Alan Nebelthaul), filmmakers (Joan Grossman) and artists (Tom Aprile, Laura Young, Andy Topolski).” [1]

Toth’s experimentation with projections on fabric began in 1980 in collaboration with John Cage and Lejaren Hiller on their production of HPSCHD presented at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. The first of many such intermedia productions, it also marked the beginning of Toth’s long and ongoing connection to the Western New York art scene, which also includes work at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, Artpark, and the Castellani Art Museum. In a 2012-13 installation for the Burchfield Penney Art Center, he drew upon an interest he shared with Charles Burchfield in the sights and sounds of nature, combining images of the artist’s paintings with audio recordings of insects and birds mentioned in the painter’s journals and notebooks.

In 1985 Toth moved to New York City and worked on projects that were shown at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Lincoln Center’s "Out-Of-Doors Festival," the New Museum, Experimental Intermedia Foundation, CBGB’s, and Audart Gallery, among other venues. Internationally, his intermedia fabric installations have been presented at the National Museum of Photography, Film, and Television in Bradford, England; Ringacker Hall in Saas-Fee, Switzerland; Fundacion para el Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City; and “A” Space in Toronto, Canada.

Toth received a BA in sculpture from Washington University (St. Louis, Missouri); an MA in sculpture from the State University of New York at Buffalo; and a Ph.D. in Media and Communications from the European Graduate School in Leuk Stadt, Switzerland. He has taught at Hunter College in Manhattan since 2004 and has worked extensively as a teaching artist for Lincoln Center Institute, the Juilliard School, Symphony Space, Bank Street College, Bard College, and Lehman College. His publications include The Virtual Teaching Artist: Strategies for a Museum (adapted from a podcast and published in the Teaching Artist Journal in 2011) and The New Perception: Hypermediating Interdisciplinary Cultures Through Aesthetic Education (published in the Forum on Public Policy Online: A Forum of the Oxford Roundtable in 2008).

To learn more about John Toth, visit www.JohnToth.net

 

[1] John Toth, artist statement, “Alien Species: … ‘weird beauty… reflected in a net of a silver light,’” exhibition at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, 10/12/2012–02/24/2013, http://www.burchfieldpenney.org/exhibitions/exhibition:10-12-2012-02-24-2013-alien-species-weird-beauty-reflected-in-a-net-of-a-silver-light-1/. (Accessed 07/31/2013)