MSAC Individual Artist Award (IAA)2013
Artist StatementI am an artist/activist who has shown my work in galleries and museums around the United States and in Europe. My work concerns the confused spiritual state in which we find ourselves in this post-modern era, and how we might find meaning in this cultural morass of “reality” TV shows and lying politicians. As part of my ongoing investigation, I have worked in conjunction with Amnesty International, International Peace Research Association, Peace and Justice Studies Association, Irish Centre for Human Rights, UNESCO Center for Peace, Overseas Chinese Democracy Coalition and other activist organizations. I have published numerous academic articles tracing the influence of Sufism on the development of Jewish mysticism during medieval times, as well as exhibiting my art and discussing my ideas at such institutions as George Washington University, Ohio State University, Michigan State University, Franklin and Marshall College, Eastern Carolina University, Hood College, Ohio University, Manhattan College and Antioch College. My work is in collections at the Irish Centre for Human Rights; Contemporary Art Museum of Montecatini, Italy; Portland (OR) Community College; George Washington University; Georgetown University Hospital; HNTB Architecture, and the Summit Art School. I have been awarded monetary grants and other support from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation (NY), Sugarman Foundation (CA), Nelson Talbott Foundation (MD), Puffin Foundation (NJ), New York Foundation for the Arts (NY), Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (MD) and Amnesty International. Out of all of this work, I have developed a theory entitled: “Prophetic Activist Art,” an idea that I have presented at art, peace and human rights conferences around the United States and Canada.
Tom Block is an artist, writer and activist best known for the development and implementation an activist art theory, “Prophetic Activist Art.” His activist work includes the Human Rights Painting Project (www.humanrightspaintingproject.com), Shalom/Salaam Project (www.tomblock.com/11shalom/index.php), Response to Machiavelli Project and Cousins Public Art Project (www. tomblock.com/10cousins/index.php), as well as his Heretical Paintings. He also developed and produced the first ever Amnesty International Human Rights Art Festival (www.humanrightsartfestival.com), an international event that took place April 2010 in Silver Spring, MD.
His art has been exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the United States and Europe. He has been awarded monetary grants and other support from the Norman Lear Family Foundation (CA), Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation (NY), Sugarman Foundation (CA), Nelson Talbott Foundation (MD), Puffin Foundation (NJ), New York Foundation for the Arts (NY), Maryland State Arts Council (MD), William and Mary Greve Foundation (NY), Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (MD) and Amnesty International (NY).
He has spoken about his theories of using art as an activist tool at conferences and universities, including: Al-Azhar University (Cairo), Irish Centre for Human Rights (Galway, Ireland), Depaul University (IL), Villanova University (PA), Xavier University (OH), University of Arkansas (AR), Ohio University (OH), Fetzer Institute (MI), Manhattan College (NY), Vanderbilt University (TN), University of Calgary (Canada), Institute of Art (Birmingham, England), Emory University (GA), Grand Valley State University (MI), American Popular Culture Association, Mid Atlantic Popular Culture Association, International Peace Research Association and at other universities and conferences around the world.
His first book, “Shalom/Salaam: A Story of a Mystical Fraternity,” which traces the influence of Sufism (Islamic mysticism) on the direction of Jewish spirituality over the course of 1000 years, was published in Fall 2010 in the United States (Fons Vitae, Louisville, KY) and Turkey (Bilim Art? Gönül Yay?nc?l?k Ltd. ?ti., Istanbul, Turkey). “A Fatal Addiction: War in the Name of God” was published this fall (2012) by Algora Publisher (NY) and his novel “The Fool Returns” will be published in Turkey this winter (2012). His first play, “White Noise” was produced in Washington D.C. last June, and will be produced in New York next summer, as a Resident Theater Production of Theater for the New City, in the East Village. His second play, “Butterfly,” will have its world premier in February 2013, in Takoma Park, MD.