I have a B.S. in biology and a minor in photography. As a consequence, my work almost always combines science and art. To achieve this blending of disciplines, I use paper as the underlying compositional element. The focus of the Biologic series zeroes in on two heavenly bodies – the sun and moon. I have the photographs printed as color Xeroxes of varying sizes so that I can cut them out of their respective backgrounds into biomorphic shapes. The shapes are then composed and rephotographed on elevated sheets of glass in which each level can be independently lit. The result is a lush, fictional landscape that often mimics an aerial view. The compositions embrace color and form and explore the illusion of depth. They linger at the intersection of painting and photography, imagery and abstraction.
Group Show | Cove Street Arts Gallery. Portland, ME
Review by Jorge Arango, Maine Sunday Telegram, 3-7-22
The abstraction of nature takes many forms in this show. The work of John Woodruff is about light – specifically sunlight and moonlight. The artist trains his camera on the sun and moon at different times of day and night and produces many prints of these images. Then, drawing from his enthrallment with the fluid shapes of amoebae, he cuts them out, tracing a curvy line around them with his scissors. These he groups on layers of glass separated by blocks, then lights them from different angles to create dramatic shadows. Finally, he photographs the composition from above, looking down through the layers of glass.
The final product looks like a collaged image that emits many points of sunlight or moonlight. Their colors – yellows, blues or deep gray-blacks – are determined by the hour at which Woodruff shoots these bodies, and how closely they are focused on the chromosphere and corona. Depending on the way he assembles the images, they can call to mind other things, such as hydrangeas (“Division”), roses (“I Have a Message to Give You”) or even the coronavirus (“Bloom”). Personally, those that feature a flash of starlight (“Origin” and “Do You Ever Dream?”) have a restraint and contrast to them that appear both elegant and magical.