Artist Jonah Ward (b. August 31, 1984) creates wooden panels stamped with what could be tar like paint and printed with abstract designs and meanderings. Upon closer inspection, the different woods—with their different grains, colors, and textures—are scarred with burns: what is left over when Jonah drips, ladles, presses, cools, and peels molten glass off carefully selected wood panels.
These works are as much a product of Jonah’s education as his background—born on Foster Mountain, raised on a farm on red dirt roads, and educated in a one-room schoolhouse. In his works, he continues to cultivate this dialogue with nature. While requiring sustained physical interaction with natural materials—cutting the wood, handling and manipulating scalding glass, and affixing burnt edges to the panels, the works are also paradoxically devoid of Jonah’s literal touch or imprint. He acts more as a facilitator—harnessing natural processes and phenomenon, while also according them their proper respect for their capacity for both incommensurable beauty and destruction. Rather than dictate that everything created is well within his control, Jonah acknowledges that sometimes things do not go as planned—the glass was too soft to peel off, too hot to manipulate carefully, or too cold to drip. The burn patterns and designs demonstrate his control and lack of it, his creative vision and ability to improvise, his skill in handling the volatile medium and also capacity to adapt to changing conditions.
In their most literal, the works are compellingly aesthetic; in their most metaphorical, they are a testament to our always relevant interaction with the natural world.