Terry Ward's "Modular Mashup" Art Explained

Most post-2007 Terry Ward art is made in series-groups of same-sized panels. Usually there are four similar panels --sometimes just two, sometimes up to twelve. Ward considers each panel to be a unique piece capable of being hung (and sold) on its own. Also, it may be combined by curators or patrons with other Ward panels --even from different series. The mixes and art "mash-ups" generate new possibilities. The modular-mashup mixability of Ward's art seems to be new to painting. (In theory, all Ward art could mix in a 500-foot mega-MashUp.)

Mashups might have a "serene" quality to them. Ward nicknamed the above arrangement "Watermoon".

Switching some of the previous arrangement's panels led to another "peaceful" arrangement (nicknamed "Waterweave").

Moving around panels some more and adding from another Series led to this --seeming to evoke "life-origin" or some such.

Is this an "outbreak"? Or perhaps just a nonrepresentational abstract.

Series 459 in a vertical mashup with Series 453.

Another arrangement of Series 459 in a vertical mashup with Series 453.

Ward pondered the post-tsunami Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster [ wiki ] while making this mashup. This arrangement would fill around 7ft x 20ft of wall space (or even floor space).

A larger Ward mashup again evoking Fukushima (福島第一原子力発電所事故).

Some panels from the above re-re-arranged at a Smithsonian affiliate gallery (next to an Ann Crane found-object piece). Barely visible out the window is a George Rickey [ wiki ] sculpture on loan from the National Gallery of Art.

Another view of the above mashup (with a cube-element of the George Rickey sculpture now visible in the window outside --his piece moves in the wind, bringing certain parts into and out of view as the breezes outside blow).

The same mashup, shown sans-walls.

Mashups visible above the escalator railing during Ward's solo show at the New York Mercantile Exchange in the World Trade Center/World Financial Center Complex [ wiki ]. (At the end of the corridor visible through the window is a monumental columnar sculpture by the famed Martin Puryear [ wiki ].

A closer view of the above arrangement (a mashup of Ward's Series 260 with Series 200. (Ward's art on the background wall shows the Omnidirectional capability: the white panels are hung horizontally, the blue ones are vertical with one panel intentionally inverted.)

Some panels from the arrangement above in a different mashup at a different gallery.

Some panels from the background wall of the New York Mercantile Exchange show now hung at angles in a whole-wall mashup with other Series panels. (Ward art is purposefully Omnidirectional; hanging at angles is possible.)

Ward art can be turned toward historical or political ends. Ward nicknamed this mashup "Viet-flashbacks", of course evoking Vietnam war soldiers' PTSD. It includes panels from Ward's War Stories, Swirlwhirl Loops, Composition with Rabbits, and others.

Ward pondered the Nazi Einsatzgruppen [ wiki ] shooting squads while arranging this mashup. Some of these panels had paint applied through gunfire while others are a direct reference to the deadpan and evasive defensive testimony some Nazi killers spoke at their trials; for more info, see the artist's notes blurb at the bottom of their page, here. The same arrangement could be used to evoke death squads generally, anywhere on the globe.

This mashup installed in a gallery evokes the Iraq occupation fiasco. The arrangement included panels from Ward's Flag and Stop Loss.

Here, a proposed monumental (roughly 35-40 foot by 7 foot) mashup Ward designed evokes the Iraq war. Nicknamed "Iraq thinking back," the arrangement includes panels from Ward's Infosomes, a gunfire piece, plus Flag, Souls' Tolls, and the remaining panels of Stop Loss (note: two of the original eight Stop Loss panels are no longer available, having gone on permanent display in Jimmy Carter's staff conference room at the Carter Center).

While all of the above mashups were designed by Ward, the artist also embraces the relational aesthetics [ wiki ] (RA) idea of letting the visiting public interact with the art and allowing this social element to be "part of the art"; officially, Ward welcomes the idea of viewers rearranging the panels while they are on exhibit. Ward also encourages patron-remixing: panels may be bought or sold individually or in groups or remixed as buyers see fit. Tilting or inverting panels? Fine. (Of course, for curatorial or liability reasons, venues usually prohibit such behavior; visitors should check with gallery staff before handling the art themselves.) The few RA painters who exist usually contrive to let the visitors apply the paint; it is unusual with RA for the artist to control the whole painting process (it is just the final arrangement --though, therefore, the "meaning"-- which Ward allows the public to change).

Being "officially" open to the idea of visitors rearranging the art-panels and of thus also perhaps changing the meanings is unusual. It could be called lazy, but Ward disagrees: "I just recognize that the 'meaning' of any art already exists only inside the viewer/s mind; I might envision a certain piece, but even as I make it, the finished art will differ in some ways from my first intent --any artist who denies that happens is probably lying." Ward continued, "so the art is already one degree 'off' from the artist's original intent, even as the artist creates the art; and as soon as someone else looks at it, then the viewer's whole aesthetic and cultural and personal experience will influence the interpretation --there is no way for an artist to 'control' that." Ward concludes, "so I look that in the eye and say, 'bring it on' --it's fine.... part of my artistic process is to 'embrace' that." Even though composing pictures to "work" at any angle is more challenging than composing conventionally-oriented paintings, Ward smiles at the idea of some enterprising visitor getting permission from gallery staff to flip a panel upside-down.

Due to the large size, this GIF might skip a few frames on the first loop. If it seems to make little sense, please sit through another loop. Each loop is around 90 sec.

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Wart art here.

Exhibit views.

Unusual art processes.

Studio Visit video page.

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