John Vitale’s practice ranges across collage, video, sculpture, and installation. With a background in design and photography, much of his work takes influence from branding or advertising, and ideas behind product display and consumption. But an overarching influence is from everyday experience and observation of people around him. Find more at the links below!
Can you tell me a little bit about you?
I’m from Virginia Beach, Virginia and am currently based in Minneapolis, MN. I graduated from Parsons School of Design with a BFA. In the 10 years I was in New York I photographed artwork for museums and galleries, worked with Doug Aitken’s studio on a project for the MOMA, and eventually became an “experience designer” at a design build studio-designing windows, spaces, and collateral for major luxury brands. I eventually moved back to Virginia and briefly curated pop up galleries for VAMOCA, then opened Nobile Amundsen gallery. All this contributed to my education. I’m currently an EMT working on an ambulance in the Minneapolis metro, which has been one of my most valuable experiences so far.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
I saw the Larry Clark “Tulsa” exhibit when I was in high school and that cemented it for me. That made me spend hours in book stores and libraries looking at art books. I never took an art class till college, but that exhibition propelled me into taking photos and making things before art school.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
I’m currently interested in how we interpret our sense experience and the limits of our cognitive abilities. Not to oversimplify things, but working on an ambulance I interact with a large cross section of society and it has led me to believe that we are all the same. Our differences lie in how we interpret sense experience and surround it with a narrative. While this may seem obvious, witnessing this in a situation that potentially confronts mortality can make certain contrasts more substantial.
What is your process like?
I usually start with a very flushed out idea of the finish product and welcome any realizations, and subsequent changes, that come when making the thing. A lot of research (which takes many forms) usually surrounds the piece.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?
I often think about about how art from this period will be remembered by history. How the work that will and won’t be canonized in a period of so much fine art production will be thought of, and what forces have brought this level of production about. I also think of other avenues where utilizing the creative impulse can provide something meaningful. I feel like this framework was given to me at some point by an individual. It has probably been detrimental to my art career.
What is your studio like?
My last show I made in a cabin deep in the Iron Range section of rural Minnesota. I usually work in my basement studio.
What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
I’ve always wanted to view art as free space where genius germinates in some colloquial intersections of society. Where the intellect, desires, and drives touch on the ineffable. When art plays by the rules of over-professionalism I find my desired narrative of art harder to piece together.
What are three words you would use to describe your work?
WHAT IS THIS
What are you working on right now?
Elaborating on the themes of my last show with some new pieces.
Anything else you would like to add?
Thanks for reading this.