As critical as he is playful, Jack Featherly is as concerned with the relationship of reality contained in a painting as he is with reality itself. In regard to the relation between art and daily life, he often takes some distance to things, which enables him to turn his attention to form and materiality, above and beyond issues of content.
While some of the work is a critique of the way advertising and marketing angles itself to take advantage of hot button cultural moments, it is important to note that everything in the artist’s paintings is in constant flux. Reality and artifice, words and images, construction and destruction...
With his work being endlessly inquisitive and experimental, you need much more than just your eyes to see things as they are. The black in Enter Your Spaceship is not that of a black hole, rather that of a black ground graced with white strokes, shimmering like falling stars in the night sky. It is a painting about dreams and aspirations and the tortuous but beautiful paths one takes to attain them.
By challenging what could be considered the “safe space” of abstract forms, the use of the narrative allows for a structure dealing with difficult cultural issues that cross gender and racial boundaries. Therefore any of the artist's paintings can send you coursing down a network of ideas and associations. They are promiscuous, trenchant, unceasingly inventive and sometimes even funny by referencing cartoonish drawings.
Some of the images in the artist’s current body of work are derived from Bellerophon coloring books (“Make Learning Fun”), a publication which has been around for almost 50 years. Contrary to Dover, the industry category leader (who chooses a masculine/scientific format and eschews any artistic hand in their drawings), Bellerophon has a history of representing women and indigenous cultures. It has developed a subtle form of protest by gender neutralizing the traditional male form through drawing and by acknowledging the colonial origins of its source material.
Cultural appropriation is a multi-headed creature and has a very layered history that can be unwound to find interesting ways of undermining questionable images.
Ultimately one is struck by the one constant in the artist’s work, which is that everything speaks in an arresting present tense. The beauty in his works is not classical in the sense of absolute truths and forms at rest, but rather of flexibility and resilience.
Featherly completed his BFA at the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon. Recent solo exhibitions were presented at Mesler/Feuer in New York (2015), Upfor in Portland (2014), and Christopher Henry Gallery in New York (2010). Featherly's works appear in two-artist and group exhibitions throughout the United States and in France, Germany, South Korea and Japan. The corporate collections of Progressive and Chase Bank, as well as various private collections, include his work. In summer 2016, Featherly was part of Portland 2016: A Biennial of Contemporary Art, curated by Michelle Grabner and presented by Disjecta Contemporary Art Center.