David Lusk Gallery Memphis / 97 Tillman St. May 17, 2023 - June 17, 2023

John Salvest

This May, John Salvest returns to David Lusk Gallery Memphis with ITERATIONS, a solo exhibition of articulate works developed out of obsessive collections of objects and a keen social awareness that has driven his practice for decades.

Beginning with a love of wordplay, Salvest’s object-based art explores issues of time and mortality. He often employs literature and a sharp wit to prod provocative perceptions into the human condition. He works with collected objects specific to the installation or sculpture: business cards, stamps, matches, diet pills, and bottle caps for his smaller “objects,” as he calls them, while shipping containers, billboards, and punching bags are incorporated into larger projects.

Iteration is defined as a process of doing something again, usually to improve it,” Salvest says. “For this exhibition I have chosen to revisit and refine some of the materials, methods and concepts I have been drawn to throughout my creative life.”

Salvest’s use of text and language as form allow for a range of interpretation and requires the viewer to examine connotations between text and everyday objects. Stampler riffs on a needlepointer’s decorative embroidered sampler that might include various stitches as an example of their skills. Salvest’s “sampler”is made entirely of used, canceled stamps arranged over two panels and features all 26 letters of the alphabet and numbers 1-9. Rather than skill with a needle and thread, Salvest’s skill, or perhaps obsession, lies in his dedication to arrange the two grids, each the positive and negative of the other. Peace, Officer is a collection of vintage wooden police batons arranged in the shape of a peace sign. The work takes a cue from recent acts of violence and hatred exhibited by those who are tasked, and have taken an oath, to protect and serve the public.

Based in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Salvest is a former Professor of Art at Arkansas State University and a current thinker and maker. He received his B.A. In English from Duke University and an M.F.A. in sculpture from the University of Iowa. In addition to being reviewed and featured in numerous publications, such as Art in America, The New York Times, Art Papers and The New York Examiner, Salvest is the recipient of various awards and grants including two National Endowments for the Arts Fellowships and a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant. His notable public art projects locations include the Cannon Center for Performing Arts in Memphis, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Grand Arts in Kansas City.

Image: Flag, sharpened pencils, 30x45x3.5," 2022