Artist Statement…what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 9 It is my belief that today’s art has become detached from meaning. Today’s art is made spontaneously and without planning, thus it offers no message to the viewer. My artwork attempts to restore meaning to painting and return to a time when art attempted expand the vision of the audience by presenting the viewer with the ills and triumphs of society. By drawing parallels between the U.S. dominated world of today and the past-histories, legends and myths- of other civilizations we can find, among other things, how far we as a people have come. One obvious connection would be with the last great world civilization, the Roman Empire, but every civilization has its own histories and legend which I will pull from. Since the past, one could say technology has grown and the world has become closer but have the ideals evolved? Have the values changed and what is the result? Each series of my paintings consists of about fourteen to twenty four paintings, each with it's own philosophical theme. The first arc illustrates the similarities and connections between the present and the past. I do this by pairing painted image of the past with a modern photo of “current” events. I choose my topics carefully so they contain enough layers of meaning to satisfy the average viewer and the intellectual type alike, but I also put enough energy and grace into the painting itself so that it may stand on its own without the accompanying photos.
Derek McGowan was born in 1979 in Baltimore, Maryland. Largely self taught and drawing since childhood, he used whatever materials he could find to continue his need to express himself through art work. Early subjects included dinosaurs, sharks and comics. Once he reached high school he made money on the side by drawing portraits of his fellow classmates and his teachers’ children. During his 11th grade year, at the suggestion of his high school counselor, Derek entered the regional Aspiring Artist Competition where he placed second and used his entire $700 prize on art supplies. Derek then enrolled in Towson University’s fine art program in January 1998. There he studied under professors Michael Weiss, Nora Sturges as well as Tonia Matthews who was the first to teach him oil painting at age 22. He came upon his current technique and style during his senior year. Works of this style, which combine found contemporary news photographs and oil paintings of events of the past, were exhibited during two school sponsored shows. He has also painted commissioned portraits for several clients. Recently graduated, in 2005, Derek is seeking gallery representation.