Edited by Sara Johnson, Marketing Coordinator
JonHenry Justice is currently a student at Sheridan High School. He became a Member of SAGE during our recent exhibition: Sheridan High School Art Gala, which featured over 70 students and over 200 works of art. Justice will be starting his sophomore year of high school this fall (2021).
1. What are your favorite art mediums to use and why?
I will use any medium that can properly portray the story I want to tell. To me art is all about telling stories. In my paintings I generally use acrylics, inks, oil pastel. I will even use watercolor, or markers. I break the rules most of the time, doing layers out of order, and things like that. Recently I have tried to get simple, and only use black and white. I usually gravitate towards paint and mediums of that nature because I can really feel how it will go down on the surface I am working on.
2. What inspires you when making a composition?
When making a composition I usually have a vague idea of the elements I want. Most of my pieces of art highlight characters, but the setting still needs to make sense around them. In the past I would think of a word like "building" or "bicycle" and build a piece around experiences, or ideas I have with those things. Recently though, that technique has seemed a bit shallow for me, and I have really been trying to dig deeper into myself. This digging deeper has really slowed me down and made me rethink a lot of my art. I see this as a good thing though, because this can only make my art better.
3. Could you share a bit about yourself? Have you taken art classes throughout school or is it something new for you?
I am going into my sophomore year of high school. I have been very lucky throughout my school years to have teachers that have been very flexible with my art. I am pretty rigid in the things I like to create, and all of my teachers have been very understanding. Every year of school I try and take as many art classes as possible. I see any opportunity to practice and learn as important and special, so I don't usually take very many electives outside of art classes.
4. Your work has a distinct strong voice and unique perspective, especially considering your age! Are there specific artists, living or dead, who inspire you to create, either through their techniques or subjects?
I would say that when I first started painting, artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Egon Schiele were two of my biggest inspiration. Then later on I discover more eastern artists. Artists like Hokusai, Takashi Murakami, Aya Takano, Yoshitomo Nara, and Yue Minjun really stand out to me. I never got super into Western painting. I find that a lot of Western paintings lack the qualities that Eastern paintings have. Many Eastern painters paint the joints and muscles of the body completely differently, and I'm drawn to how they are portrayed much more. I also find now that a lot of Western art now is caught in a sort of limbo state where it's drawing a lot of inspiration from Eastern art, and to me just looks like a cheap knock off of the real thing. I draw inspiration, but I also try to change, and adapt it to what I like. I think that in order for Western art to progress it will need to do the same thing.
5. What are some of your dreams or goals for after high school? Are you interested in pursuing the fine art world, or another art-related field?
Right now my future plans are a bit up in the air. I find that the stories I want to tell are very difficult to express in even a series of paintings. I find myself gravitating towards a lot of comic books, and I have been writing a lot of stories recently. Right now I am just trying to find a way to adapt the stories I am writing into art. I may write a comic book, and I may do something else instead. All I know is that art is the only career that I am willing to pursue, and I don't think that will ever change.
6. What is it like for you to display your artwork in a gallery?
I enjoy displaying my art, I think its great that someone can look at what I make and get a feeling from it. As for the symposium I found that to be a bit less enjoyable just because of the overwhelming amount of pieces there. I like when people look at my art, so when there's so many pieces that the art is indistinguishable to the rest it makes me a bit upset. I'm selfish in that way.
7. Some artists prefer not to give statements on specific works (the "art speaks for itself" idea), but would you mind giving a statement on one of your pieces, maybe "untitled"? Or "Killing a Snake" from the SHS show?
With those pieces I didn't really have an idea of what I wanted them to mean, I mostly let my subconscious guide me. But in doing so, after I finished them, I understood what the art was trying to tell me. With "Killing a Snake" I was wrapped up in a group of people who were having a falling out, and the snake represents me, because I felt like I was just stuck in this situation that I shouldn't have had to be involved in. With "untitled" I realized the meaning behind it was that I was stressed out about a lot of environmental problems, and the two sides represent the two viewpoints on the climate crisis.