John Mulvany is an artist and art educator originally from Ireland who has been living and working in Austin for twenty years. He has taught art for twenty-five years and is the studio art teacher at Headwaters School in Austin. He graduated from the College of Art, Design and Print in Dublin, Ireland with a fine art degree and also has a degree in art and design education from the Crawford College of Art in Cork, Ireland. In 2009, he was featured in the Texas Biennial and nominated as best artist by the Austin Visual Arts Association. Among the galleries where he has exhibited his work are grayDUCK gallery, The Dougherty Arts Center in Austin, Texas Lutheran University, and Galleri Urbane in Marfa, TX.
His two most recent exhibitions were Secure the Perimeter at grayDUCK Gallery in 2019 and The Pattern Days, an online exhibition in 2020.
He lives in East Austin with his wife, Monique, and his two sons.
As an artist who grew up in Ireland and having lived in Texas for almost as long as I lived there, I have the recurring experience that many immigrants have of leaving and returning.
At the start of January 2020, I began to make a series of landscape paintings based on two trips I made last year to my home country of Ireland. I had been working on a solo-exhibition at grayDUCK gallery throughout 2019 based on walks around my neighborhood in east Austin.
Midway through the production of this body of work my mother died in Ireland. I was away from my home in Austin for more than two months to help care for her in her last weeks and days. When I returned to my studio in Austin I was struck by how the themes in my work had taken on new layers of meaning. The paintings I had been making of dead birds, vacant houses in various states reclamation by nature, cycles of life, the passing of time, all were present in the work before my mother died but now newly present in a more visceral way. I was reminded of how art's function and meaning can shift and change not just in the artist but in the viewer too.
I am conscious of how the meaning of "landscape" as it relates to painting has morphed in recent years from what might seem on the surface to be an archaic subject for artists into something much more vital and alive in the 21st century. Our relationship to the natural world is inexorably changing before our eyes. Where, in the not-so-distant past we may have had the perception of ourselves as somehow existing "outside" of nature, we now finally realize that we are now at the mercy of potentially catastrophic changes in the climate. With the recent threat of global pandemic, we are becoming much more conscious of how we interact with our environment. Art in general and painting particularly invites us to consider and grapple with the facts of life and death on our planet in new and visceral ways.