I want to put the ART in ARTIFACTS. Meaning, I'm interested in making objects, with love, that are equal parts physical, and artful; not for observation on a wall, but for people to form personal connections to as part of the energy, color, and tactile-ness of life.
This desire of mine started early. I grew up drawing, and from the beginning my work has been characterized by a strong sense of physicality. And it's this sense of physicality -- of being embodied, which all humanity has in common -- that shoots through every level of my work with these T-shirts:
As you'll see in my image galleries, I love bodies. They are a "subject matter" that can express all of life, without words. My materials for these t-shirts are fabric of course, and ink. I love the way that ink, under the direction of my hand, stains the fabric. It is a most intimate, immediate process; there are no machines or mechanical techniques producing the images, and I get to put all my love and artistry into each one. And then of course, people will wear the shirts on their bodies, and I hope in a way that is full of personal meaning and expression.
Every image I offer on this site is my original work -- except for the Angels of Paul Klee. Klee is a hero of mine, and the simple power of his angels amazes me. I want everyone to get to know them!
Otherwise, this site organizes my drawings into 3 categories, each of which I'd like to say a little something about -- should you desire any context:
- a series of stylized Figures I've been developing for years
- the comical theater tradition of Commedia dell'Arte
- "The Kitchen Sink", an eclectic assortment of 'un-themed' images.
The Figures are an ongoing collection that arose spontaneously over a decade ago, and have since become a kind of meditation. I can't tell you how many times I've felt some unidentifiable state or feeling pass through me, which, after simply putting my pen down on the paper, has resulted in one of the Figures kind of drawing itself. They alternately haunt me like ghosts and tickle me like tricksters, while ultimately, to me, pointing to the endless mysteriousness of being human.
Next, a word on Commedia dell'Arte. (I'm an actor -- my other embodied art -- and I've never felt more alive on stage than when playing inside this vibrant performance tradition!)
Full of masks, recognizable character types, and outrageous situations, Commedia arose in Italy in the 1500’s, and became popular across Europe for hundreds of years. Though not as popular now as it was then, it’s still around, and has plenty left to say. Using earthy humor and wild physicality, Commedia characters are always trying to outwit, dupe, trick, and fool each other in the pursuit of everything from food, to power, to money, to love. Poking fun at the pompous upper classes, and celebrating the ingenuity of the underdog, Commedia speaks across time and culture by reminding us to think again -- and laugh -- every time we think we’ve got it all worked out.
Lastly, "The Kitchen Sink". That sorta says it all: life manifests itself absurdly, bizarrely, abstractly, mysteriously, and sometimes with a bit of wit, warmth, and spirit. Some images in this gallery are words, or objects, or other "non-body" things; but they still point to the whimsy, beauty, and complexity facing us all.
I'm honored by your visit! I hope you enjoy what's on offer here, and I'd love to hear from you anytime.
All photos and art images ©2017 Jon Froehlich. Commedia photo by Carol Rossegg, featuring (l to r) Kelly Eubanks, Isaac Hirotsu Woofter, Laura Butler Rivera, Jon Froehlich