A reception is being held this Saturday for a combined show featuring John Pearson's mixed media art, Bill Warmbrodt's Kinzua Bridge series and other photography on the walls of the gallery for the month's of July and August. ARTIST’S STATEMENT “The Label Goes in the Back” is a catch phrase for teaching children with mental retardation how to distinguish the front from the back of their clothing. It may, as we are using it, also reference how inadequate labeling is in determining the interests and abilities of Special Education students. John, who was born with Down syndrome, enjoys much success in the very new field of digital photography. Because photographs can be taken at essentially no cost, as well as the immediacy of the medium, it is an ideal means of expression for John. From his humble beginnings as family photographer, he went on to photograph events at his high school for publication, for local club events, and school and work calendars. Eventually John found his niche as the photographer at Warren County Summer Music School . His photographs for this organization are regularly displayed during the summer program and his slide show has been used to entertain the guests at the school’s Open House and as the basis for a CD used in grant applications since 1998. John is employed at Bollinger Enterprises, Inc., a sheltered workshop, where he enjoys being part of their full-time work force. His photographs encompass the many areas of interest in John’s life: sports, dance, music, local scenes and people. “The Label Goes in the Back” was the title of a successful one man exhibit of digital photography, illustrations and sculpture by John Pearson at the Wright Conference Room & Gallery, Jamestown NY , sponsored by the Arts Council for Chautauqua County in the fall of 2005. “Collaborations” was the title of a second exhibit at the Wright Conference Room and Gallery in September 2007. “Collaborations” was chosen for the show title as a way of emphasizing how important working with others was in making the show a reality. John worked with his former art teacher and interim volunteer director of the Wright Gallery, Rebecca Thomas and with a group of fellow workers at Bollinger Enterprises, Inc, a sheltered workshop. A special Brown Bag lunch was held in conjunction with the show to allow persons with an interest in the disability community and arts programming to meet and exchange ideas. This exhibit was made possible through support from the New York State Council of the Arts & the Arts Council for Chautauqua County .
- In November of 2007 John participated in an art exhibition at the Adams Gallery in Dunkirk , NY . It was a show on “Healing Arts” and featured artists from all over Warren and the Chautauqua areas.
- In April of 2009 John participated in the Community Art Show sponsored by the Dr. Gertrude A. Barber National Institute in Erie, PA , “Celebrating the Possibilities,” exploring the artistic achievements of all person.
- Most recently in May 0f 2009 Café 905, a part of the Warren Community Center in Warren , PA hosted a one man exhibit by John. The entrance to the café was turned into a mini-exhibit area for his digital photography. He created a special edition of magnolia prints which were sold to benefit the center.
John is a member of the Warren Art League and regularly shows with this group
I started taking digital photographs in 1998. We purchased a Sony Mavica at the suggestion of a friend, who realized the potential impact this new technology could have in my life. He and my mom thought I would enjoy being the family photographer. I am on my third Sony digital camera. I have the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-F828. I use Google’s Picasa to edit my photos. It is easy to use and it is free, which is a good thing. I like my photographs to be clean and simple. We print them at home with a HP inkjet printer. I try different papers and effects. My photographs have brought me recognition and help people to see me as a capable person. I have made many friends through my photography. It is something I like to share. How can I separate my disability out from who I am? I see the world as I see it. I do not know a world where I do not have Down Syndrome. Art was important for me during my Middle and High School years. It took me outside my special education classroom and into the mainstream of school life. Eventually my photographs were used by the local newspaper and in the school yearbook. Once I got to photograph the cheerleaders. I liked that! When I was a student at Warren County Summer Music School , I took some pictures that people liked. I became their official photographer. I learned how to work quickly and quietly under pressure. I made wonderful friends and they offered me my first paying job as a summer intern. I have just completed my eleventh year as their photographer.
(As told to and witnessed by John’s mother)