My fascination with the scraps and fragments of how things record memories started when I was a child. I spent hours exploring my grandparents’ long forgotten trunks. Old notebooks, faded papers, postcards and bits of string attracted me. But it was always the undefined fragment of an object or the battered leather cover of a journal that fired my imagination.
Over the years I have continued to be drawn to the visual power of journals, maps, and the typography of recording a time and place. My own journals take the form of sketchbooks and small watercolors that provide the basis for my work. These paintings are visual chronicles of experiences, travels and adventures. The watercolor sketches, layered snippets of landscapes, visual textures and tromp l’oeil objects are constructed completely of paper. The objects, like memories, are often not what they seem. The shifting perspective and use of three-dimensional formed paper provide the environment, but it is the viewer who must complete the story.
Born and raised in the American Midwest, John Emery received a graduate degree from the Manchester College of Art and Design in England, and undergraduate degrees from both the School of the Dayton Art Institute, and the University of Dayton.
Returning from England he joined Vie Design, in Yellow Springs, Ohio and worked closely with the noted designer, Read Viemeister for the next sixteen years. In 1987 he opened his own design studio, Graphic Design Continuum, in Dayton, Ohio. John’s design work, recognized nationally and internationally, has been featured in publications as well as major graphic design exhibitions, including the New York Art Directors’ Club, Society of Typographic Arts 100 Show, the Package Design Council, Graphis Annuals and American Institute of Graphic Arts.
Throughout his career John has integrated his passion for painting, graphic design and design education, by frequently taking sabbaticals to teach and travel. He has lectured and taught at various colleges and universities both in the US and in NZ. Teaching in NZ including a stints as a visiting lecturer at the University of Canterbury in the 1980s & 1990s and as the visiting artist at Christchurch College of Art and Design in 2001. His paintings and drawings have been exhibited and collected both nationally and internationally.
After twenty years of visiting New Zealand he and his wife Kathy established a second studio / home in the south island of New Zealand, where he works for four months a year. Located in a restored 1878 school hall, this studio functions as both a painting studio and an extension of the Dayton studio. An avid traveler, sailor, and fisherman, he now divides his time between the two studios and continues to draw upon the landscape, historic romance and personal experiences as inspiration for much of his work.