"You want to hear my theory about why so many young people are attracted to the arts? Young people invent art for themselves and it empowers them."
John Torreano describes his work as 'wooden panels, columns, crosses or wooden balls that have gems or not, hand made in feeling and concerned with two dimensional painting issues.' Several of these lively wood-based works hang in The School of Culture, Education, and Human Development's Kimball Hall Lounge. But lately Torreano is working in glass. 'I have a permanent installation of glass sculptures at the McCarran Airport in Las Vegas. Five giant gym shapes. Recently I received a grant from the Nancy Graves Foundation to make an interior version that would hang on walls, so that I could take explore interior light a more dramatic color range.'
Torreano grew up in Flint, Michigan, got his masters at Ohio State University in the early Sixties, then landed in New York just in time for an explosion of new art forms. He remembers, 'All these groups, like religions - minimalists, conceptualists, pop artists - and you had better belong to one of them!' Torreano liked to pick elements from each, and to this day he prides himself on a diverse field of influences, from Donald Sultan to Richard Serra to Nancy Graves herself.
The artist's most recent solo show was at Feature, Inc. in New York, and his most recent group show was at The Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver. But Torreano the artist is also Toreanno the stand up comic. His performance 'Sex, Love, Art and Things in Between' was seen in the 'Live from the Living Room' series at The Gershwin Hotel. His comedy, like his artwork, showcases the luminous aspects of the mundane, though for Torreano the two forms satisfy different needs. 'Art is so subjective,' he explains, 'but with comedy you know when you're a success - you get the laugh.'
As for his students at NYU, where Torreano is the head of the MA in Studio Art Program, Torreano hopes to prepare them for what lies ahead of them as artists. 'It's a complex art world today. But ultimately it's still about individual vision.' Asked why young people would ever willingly enter such a complex world, Torreano responds, 'You want to hear my theory about why so many young people are attracted to the arts? Young people invent art for themselves and it empowers them.'
- John Torreano's complete faculty bio
- View an audio slideshow of John Torreano's most recent exhibition: "Remembering: Neighborhoods & Factories, Flint, MI"