I’m a visual artist, poet, novelist and street medic, living in Philadelphia since 1964. I work in acrylic, water color, pen and ink and woodcut prints, and make from trash I find on the street. I sign my art with my birth name, Willard… in memory of my maternal grandfather who died two weeks before I was born, and out of love and respect for my Uncle, Willard Hardin–who was both big brother and mentor.
My thinking about representation, and abstraction in art, I’ve been influenced by James Elkins, and the philosopher, Levi Paul Bryant–in particular, where he writes about the intersecting rings of the material and the symbolic. I think that abstract art, when it moves beyond pleasing the eye with color and pattern, can present the viewer with an enigma, an aporia, that suggests the possibility of symbolic meaning–while denying its realization. If, as I believe, all of our encounters with material reality, are invested with latent symbolic power–by forestalling that power it’s emergence, retaining it at the threshold, just out of reach– where it cannot be translated into language, or interpreted as anything other than what it is—mind, imagination, and perception, by this denial of closure, will remain radially open, and in this, we might yet find our way to a truly revolutionary vision
Jacob Russell is my pen name. To my friends and comrades, I am Goby.