Born in a small apartment in Greenwich Village, New York city, my mom was the creative director for an advertising agency, while father is the managing director of a small investment banking firm.
We moved to a bigger house in the sleepy suburb of Darien, Connecticut, when my brother was born two years later. My parents tried to instill in us their own political and religious perspectives (conservative, and a constant battle between Catholic and Baptist), but I proved to be quite the liberal as I grew up, and lost faith when my mom fell ill. This way of thinking would later add to my social isolation growing up. Despite my extroverted personality, I never seemed to fit in.
My early education began at a Congregational nursery school when I was four, and later.
I practically lived in the science and art department of my local high School. After graduation, I journeyed on to Eckerd College, a private college in St Petersburg, Florida, which was a utopia for me as I was surrounded by free thinkers. This is where I began to blossom and my fiery passion for art started burning twice as hot. After graduation, I moved on to The Burren College of Art in Co. Clare. It was another amazing college and another period of serious growth in my art practice. For a while, part of me wished that I had stuck with my initial passion for marine biology, but at the end of the day, pursuing my career as an artist is one of the best decisions that I have ever made.
Always an artist by nature my mom taught me a lot of the basics when I was young.
My grandfather was an artist of sorts as well. But I always saw things differently from the rest of my friends. I was fascinated by little moments that were often overlooked, and tended to obsess over their recreation. As I entered my teens, my family entered a ‘perfect storm’ due, primarily, to my mother developing Multiple Sclerosis (MS). My social life began to dip and I crucially stopped working with physical reality preferring to examine my own subconscious semi-realities, namely; dreams, ritual, tragedy and self-loathing. Today, I can’t say that I specialize in anything except abstracting my own personal emotional existence to the point where even I can look at it in a removed sort of way. Essentially, my work is about emotional ritual, delving into the secret and subconsciously unexplored in an attempt to achieve some personal closure. I am my own therapist, you might say!
Over the last few years my work has been seeded in Jungian theory, and the idea of the feminine within the masculine subconscious.
Each video, performance and written piece, is created from the perspective of my feminine persona, called Ewa. She is the poet, the romantic, the transgressive and the sexually charged. The process of abstraction begins with her. Physically, I am the artist but she is my inspiration. The incorporation of Ewa, as my subconscious narrator, has been a key theme of my work since I first started dabbling in video back in 2010.
I have three exhibitions coming up in Ireland this month.
My video piece, as part of a group show at Limerick’s Occupy Space, is entitled ‘This forever [together we raised some hell]’, a tragic performance to camera. The second piece is part of ‘Live Collision’, one of the biggest independent performance art festivals in Ireland. Here, I am performing alongside Francis Fay, a Dublin based performance artist and the creator of the piece. The performance is a tender interaction between two people, sexually charged on the surface, but with an underlying wave of loneliness associated with contemporary human existence. The third exhibition is a solo performance at The Burren Art Gallery, located in a small white church in Tubber, Co. Galway. The space was recently renovated and turned into a creative crafts venue, and this performance is being held as a fundraiser for the space. The piece I dreamed of performing in this space is called ‘Lingering squalls’ which examines artistic loneliness. The artistic ‘squall’ constantly lingers, its strength re-imagined into something beautiful and tender.
The root of my method is in my writing.
I usually sit down, consider an emotion, or an experience, that is lingering with me at the time, and abstract it into poetry. The poetry is, then, taken and paired with a secondary abstraction in the form of a drawing. This drawing is, further, abstracted, into a painting or sculpture, and once again into a video or performance piece. The feeling is, thus, constantly re-imagined, by taking something dark and turning it into a beautiful moment or image. The success of each piece depends on the success of the one before it. It is a living system of sorts. It is this constant need to seek closure with my own human existence, which generates a rush of adrenaline that I can’t really equate to anything else.
Being an artist is difficult in the current economic climate.
Especially in the United States, where financial support for the Fine Arts is not given as much attention as it is elsewhere. Contemporary artists constantly struggle with funding, compensation and professional appreciation. How do we make a living doing what we do? Where do we fit in to working society? But despite this struggle, I do what I love to do and I have never been happier. I make the work that I make to share with the world, and the fact that people even go to experience it makes me feel alive. Financially it has always been tough, but the personal gain is riches enough for me!
To read more about artist John Freeman please see: http://yelvertonfreeman.carbonmade.com For details of his upcoming exhibitions in April and May please access: www.livecollision.com/festivals-2/live-collision-2014/ and https://burren-art-gallery.culturalspot.org/home and http://www.occupyspace.com