The student art competition season is about to kick off. In the meantime, art educators like J.J. Baker are showing off their talents.
Nance and Hardy Studios‘ “Nightmares” Exhibit featured several works by Baker. He was among the more than 40 artists selected for the showing in late October.
Many artists such as Francis Bacon and Max Ernst inspire Baker. Like them, he tends to avoid realistic depictions. He opts to work with abstract forms, shapes and colors.
“I find realistic depictions of objects understate their complexity,” said Baker.
He also draws inspiration from music such as the jazz artist John Coltrane. Writers like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg are another influence. These art forms involve similar characteristics. They include passion, improvisation, and the willingness to make mistakes. These are things he tries to incorporate in his classroom at Aldine Ninth Grade School.
“The path does not have to be clear and the destination can be a mystery,” explained Baker. “We can venture into the unknown with nothing but a general direction. As long as we are willing to get a bit lost, we know that this journey will lead to growth.”
The Cincinnati native describes his work as very process based. Baker doesn’t like to work with a specific plan in mind. Instead, he finds that working, layer upon layer, results in a stronger creative method. He stated that each layer he builds reacts upon the last. This both morphs and enhances the previous layer into something new. A piece is done when it does not appear as layers, but as one coherent work of art.
Baker majored in fine arts at the University of Cincinnati. He is an avid painter, but he also loves drawing and other media.
The has a serious case of self-described “wanderlust.” He travels as much as possible and takes opportunities to meet with artists. His blog is full of European images of cities, museums, art and people. Baker stated that he learns much more by knowing what influences others and why. He believes that by sharing influences we can learn from each other. This leads to a better understanding of the world around us.
“I enjoy nothing more than hearing what images and ideas other people see in my work,” stated Baker. “Art is best when it is relatable. I don’t want to force any concept onto my work that alienates the viewer from it.
“I would rather have people see what they want to see and then let me know, because that will expand how I see my work and thus perceive the world.”
Aside from pursuing his own career as an artist, he is living his dream as an art teacher. He stated that his teachers in high school inspired him to pursue an art career. He is “following their footsteps.” Baker hopes to inspire his young, aspiring artists.
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