Jonathan Durham is an artist working in sculpture, performance, video and installation. He received his MFA in sculpture from UCLA and in 2007 completed a two- year residency at the CORE Program Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Durham's sculpturally driven practice examines power structures as layered networks subject to the shaping forces of human desire and environmental phenomena. His work has been exhibited internationally including Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, Socrates Sculpture Park, Queens, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and Galerie fur Gegenwartskunst, Bremen, Germany. He is the recipient of an Aunspaugh Fellowship from the University of Virginia where he received a dual BA in Studio Art and Psychology. He has taught Sculpture, Drawing, Performance and Critical Issues Seminars at the University of Virginia, Rice University, University of Houston and Auburn University. Durham has participated in numerous residencies including Recess, Inc.“Session", SHIFT -The Elizabeth Foundation, Socrates Sculpture Park EFA Program, Bemis Arts Center, and is a forthcoming resident of Sculpture Space, Utica (NY). Currently he is a 2020-22 Tulsa Artist Fellow.
My work in sculpture and performance explores the porous boundaries between the self and the environment. I draw parallels between the forms and equipment of state violence and resource extraction to visualize how industry, culture and technology do violence to our bodies and the land. In the past two years during my residency at the Tulsa Artist Fellowship I have been researching the oil and gas industry and its effects on many levels of socio-economic life and health in the region.
The materials I use are both natural and manmade. I am drawn to objects that elicit feelings of comfort or harm, authority and the acquisition of resources. I look for ways to turn things like pipes, video cameras, wreckage from a helicopter, porcupine quills, or even a sheet of walnut brownies into markers of violence on a body or community. I use traditional techniques along with newer 3D modeling/scanning and CNC processes. When casting objects, sometimes I only show the mold as a way of exploring both the literal and subjective impressions these objects make on our lives. At times the sculptures are indecipherable from the reference objects and call into question a crisis of information - what is fake, and what is real? Often my sculptures have been described as fossils from an uncertain future. In recent performance projects my subject matter has come from my own dreams, writing and interviews with environmental activists and laborers.