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Q&A with John Feodorov | 2000 Fellowship, Visual

Artist Trust

John Feodorov, Collectibles #7, archival inkjet print on paper, 42"x22", 2007.

Q: What kind of art do you make? What inspires you to make that art?
A: My art is my way of digesting experience, history, social and environmental injustice and current events. I suppose I am what’s called a “multi-media artist”, because I can’t say that I consistently use any specific medium, or that my work is about any one thing in particular, even though there are several recurring images and themes throughout my work that often overlap. Sometimes my work addresses issues directly related to my experience as a Native American. But more often, it uses this perspective to discuss a much broader range of issues such as the environment, power, consumerism, spirituality, and identity.
What I can say for sure is that making art is how I process the world. Inspiration can be both positive and negative. I make art when I feel I need to. I’ve never been an artist who can (or would want to) just churn something out. I have tried, but have never been happy with the results.
Q: What was the impact of this award/Artist Trust on your art career/life?
A: Since I do not make art with selling in mind, and frankly have never been comfortable selling my work in general (though I occasionally do), funding from organizations like Artist Trust is extremely important to my success as an artist. Funding has made projects possible that otherwise may not have been. It has helped me retain my integrity in regards to what I create and why. Artist Trust funding helps to relieve the pressure I sometimes feel to manufacture art intended primarily for the market place.
My first award from Artist Trust came at an important point in my career as an artist. After having several exhibitions locally, I was beginning to gain recognition on a national level that culminated with being featured in the first season of the PBS series Art:21 later that year. The award helped me gain the confidence to finally call myself an “Artist”.

John Feodorov (Seattle) received a 2008 GAP for the development of a limited edition self-published booklet based upon a series of recent prints titled Collectibles. Collectibles is an exploration upon John’s experience as a Native American white male living within a dominant urban culture. Old photographs of family members combined with quotes from advertisements denoting a stereotypical Native American in order to expose the construction of a Native American identity and its impact on an individual of mixed race.
Born in Los Angeles of mixed Navajo (Diné) and European American heritage, John Feodorov grew up in the suburbs of Southern California while making annual visits to his family’s land on the Navajo Reservation. The time he spent with his grandparents on their homestead near the Anasazi Ruins at Chaco Canyon, New Mexico continues to inform his work.
Feodorov is interested in creating art that both engages and confronts the viewer; often utilizing pop culture detritus, as well as sound and video, to create works that question ideas and assumptions about spirituality, identity and place. His work explores the longing for spiritual (re)connection that can be easily exploited by charlatans, corporations and political forces. In addition, his paintings and drawings are experiments in creating hybrid mythical iconographies that respond to issues such as environmental disasters, consumerism, and post-Colonial identity.
Feodorov is currently an Associate Professor of Art at Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies at Western Washington University in Bellingham Washington. In 2001, he was featured in the first season of the PBS television series, Art 21: Art for the 21st Century as well as in the companion book published by Harry N. Abrams. His work also appears in such publications as Time and Time Again by Lucy R. Lippard, Manifestations edited by Nancy Marie Mithlo, and A World of Art edited by Henry M. Sayre. He served as an Arts Commissioner for the City of Seattle, and worked as an artist/educator for various non-profit youth groups in the Seattle area.