John Van Houten

Fine Artist, Instructor, Illustrator

Youth in Crux

My paintings are closer to cinema than scientific documentation. In my work, I have chosen to be the director of a reconstructed past, which I curated through my interpretation of the sociocultural environment important to identity. Youth in Crux is a reevaluation of the romanticized nostalgia we feel for the transition from youthful naivete to critical identity formation. Through uncanny representations of our cherished youth, I am revealing the underlying anxieties we experience while trying to find meaning in an aggressive and competitive society. As the camera captures a slice of time, I have painted stories from an epoch of hidden violence that was in flux to change for the 21st century as a result of our blindness to the critical time of youth. Yearbooks and old photographs may exist as misplaced mementos. My paintings are nostalgic to some viewers because of the associations with the universal high school experience—a time many still yearn for. My paintings convey nostalgia, but they also reveal the anxiety of youth, and in doing so they attempt to simultaneously subvert the ideal memories of adolescence.

Lost and Found: An Examination of Youth in Crux, as part of the UB MFA Non-Sequitur exhibition 2018

© 2020 John Van Houten