This site is a collection of writing, works in progress and catalog of completed works by John P. Forrest Jr.

Sabbatical and what that means

I know I have a good gig. It is hard work. Harder than most people realize. It is a myth that educators only work 9 months out of the year. At the University level all that really changes is that you go from structured time to unstructured time. The expectations of faculty go beyond teaching to include research and service to both the university and the community. During our “breaks” from teaching we are traditionally playing catch up on research and service to our community due to a high level of service to the university that occurs during the semester. Research is important to the university as well as the faculty because in the end we are responsible for presenting the knowledge we have gained as well as regularly gaining new knowledge to impart. I believe that everyone needs to take responsibility for their education. Teachers included. There is a relatively unique opportunity faculty have to devote a longer uninterrupted time to this education via research and that is the sabbatical. Universities vary but at mine a faculty member is eligible for sabbatical every six years. The faculty member must write a detailed proposal for a research project that justifies the semester away from teaching. This proposal must also outline the potential benefit of the research to the students and university. It is reviewed by a committee for the previously mentioned criteria and more. I have been teaching for almost 14 years and have been at my current institution for 11. I proposed and received approval for the first sabbatical in my teaching career. So while I will not be joining my colleagues in stepping back into the classroom this fall I will still be hard at work. I have included below a synopsis of my research project pulled from my proposal. This site will serve as an external journal of my process as I challenge myself to learn and attempt to create something worthwhile in the process.

Space, Form, and Function as a line of creative inquiry will be an extension and expansion of my work featured in two group exhibitions by Interval Press, the first from May 2013 entitled Chromatic and the second from June 2014 entitled Everything In Its Right Place. I am a partner at Interval Press and see my work over the last five years there as my primary venue of creative practice, which makes the work I produced for Chromatic and Everything In Its Right Place an appropriate launching point for this new body of work.

Space, Form, and Function will include the production of fifteen 18”x24” prints using a combination of silkscreen and letterpress printing methodologies. These fifteen prints will be broken down into three sets of five, which correspond to the subject matter referenced in the title as well as the musical artists listed below. As a designer the documentation and presentation of my creative process is an essential part of the dialogue I have with contributors to the project and at times the audience. For each of the three subjects I will produce a series of prints smaller in scale ranging in size from 6x6” to 6x12”. These technical and aesthetic studies will embody the process that finds its conclusion in the larger prints. In total I estimate 25 unique compositions will be printed and prepared for exhibition.

The title Space, Form, and Function generates two layers of investigation throughout this endeavor—investigation of the subject matter itself and the deliberate exploration of specific design principles. These two related forks of exploration are meant to generate abstractions of hidden structures within the subject matter through the mathematical connections inherent in music and an exploration of space and time through scale and form.

Music as a subject will determine visual composition as well as generate primers for an emotional response in the viewer. The goal of each print will be to translate structures inherent in the music through the application of form to build up a framework that can support an expression of emotion through color, texture and physical manipulation of the paper substrate. The organization, patterns and dissonance in the construction of music runs parallel to many facets of visual communication. Three musical artists will serve as subject and generator of form. My focus will be on one album from each artist to provide a cohesive body of source of material.

Artist Album Title

Olafur Arnalds …and they have escaped the weight of darkness

James Blake Overgrown

The National Trouble Will Find Me

The second path of inquiry in this body of work outlines a more specific framework of design exploration and its contribution to design content. Successful two-dimensional design composition depends on a dynamic relationship between the plane on which the design is presented and the arrangement of the forms therein. This relationship between Form and Space reduced to its most basic elements of point and line interacting with plane will be a major aspect of my research during this project. I look to actively engage with theory put forth by Wassily Kandinsky, László Moholy-Nagy and Armin Hofmann on the abstraction of form and dynamic composition. All three designers contributed greatly to the foundation of design theory as it relates to abstraction as well as design education within Europe and the U.S. Function will serve as a large contributor to typographic content generation. In my effort to combine the abstract application of form to describe objects with something concrete, typographic content such as specific mathematical formulas related to the musical structures, time signatures or lyrics will add a layer of meaning that makes each piece more accessible to the audience.