Johnathon Strube

What Does It All Mean? on display at ETSU Slocumb Galleries

My solo exhibition What Does It All Mean? is now on display at ETSU Art & Design’s Slocumb Galleries. This show is a continuation of my exploration in assemblage through conceptual composition and typography. The work explores personal spaces and conceptual representations related to my personal practice.

As we make our way through life, we are piecing together fragments of insight. Recently, I reached a moment in life where I began to focus on mortality and consciousness. I began to think about the personal experiences and the rhetorical reflections that persistently arise in my thoughts. This work visualizes and organizes these reflections—moments codified by words and pieced into a tapestry of material consciousness.

Reflections that are not random but developed from positionality—my primary roles are man, son, husband, and father. Their randomness and starkness reflect their truth. They do not intend to present an aesthetic allure. Yet, visualize a sterile coldness—reality. What they say is of no consequence, and what they mean is only accessed in the viewer’s mind—profound phrases, momentary quips, fragmented explanations, or lessons learned.

The typographic work is set in Akzidenz Grotesk. (Published by Berthold in 1896) Akzidenz, from the Latin accidentia, is defined as “that which happens, a casual event, a chance.” Grotesque, German Grotesk, is a standard term for sans-serif typefaces and reflects the “primitive” feel of the letterform and its roots in archaic inscriptions. These works are born of this sentiment—casual events, banal experiences, and fleeting statements composed as rhetorical reflections designed to archive the past, demand action, or capture future imagination.

The raised panels present a visual and conceptual contrast. Representing reflections that live at the edges of our minds. Thoughts that are rough or ill-formed. Fragments collected, organized, layered, considered, and possibly composed, yet to be realized or understood—textures that embody feelings or moods—positioned amongst the rigid layers of consciousness.

Rhetorical reflection is a professional practice where graphic designers combine visual elements and language to extract personal or collective meaning. Among others, this work draws inspiration from Rick Valicenti’s Notes to Self, Stefan Sagmeister’s Things I’ve Learned In My Life So Far, Debbie Millman’s Self-Portrait As Your Traitor, Matthew Hoffman’s You Are Beautiful projects, Ed Ruscha’s typographic or journalistic endeavors, and Lawrence Weiner’s conceptual installations.

These works use the graphic designer as inspiration, content, vulnerability, and expression—an attempt to impose order and structure on a messy internal dialogue. An activation of systems that reflect, record, and empower the human condition—intentionally exposing an internal dialogue—an attempt to define meaning in our lives.

The show is on display from January 17–February 9, 2024. A closing reception will be on February 8, 2024, at 5:00–7:00 p.m.

© Johnathon Strube, 1982–2024 Email
© Johnathon Strube, 1982–2024 Email