Johnny Sutton Exhibition at McPherson College Takes Painterís Viewpoint on Digital Photography

By Adam Pracht, McPherson College
November 01, 2016
Johnny Sutton art exhibit

He was only going to put up a few canvases, but one sunset and many hours later, Wayne Conyers looked up to realize he’d put up every last piece for the current art exhibition at McPherson College.

“I have never seen any digital photography like this, ever,” the professor of art said. “I was so taken with them I just couldn’t stop.”

Since that unplanned late night, Conyers said he keeps going back to see all the richness present in the 22 works in Friendship Hall by Johnny Sutton of Wichita.

Sutton, who studied sculpture and painting at Wichita State University, is known for his digital photography. He manipulates the images in beautiful and artistic ways, then prints them on huge canvases.

Conyers said he found himself needing to give most of the work plenty of space around each canvas.

“You just get lost in the details,” Conyers said. “These are photographs that need room to breathe.”

Sutton splits his time between Wichita and Bassano del Grappa, Italy, so many of his works are inspired by Italian graffiti and locations. He also has a series of beautiful, simple boats – all viewed from above – and some that are explorations of geometric forms.

They all share a characteristic: a striking texture and detail that looks like they should have three-dimensional texture. All are completely flat, however. 

“Sharp details suggest that the boats exist as presented,” Sutton said. “It is a misdirection. When all things visual are given equal weight, subjects can dematerialize. An artist may reassemble as he chooses. He is not obligated by what he sees in front of him.”

Conyers said Sutton’s work is deeply informed by his beginnings as a painter, as he uses the pixels on the computer like layers of paint.

“Most of his works have a ‘painterly’ look to them as he manipulates layered color, highlights crisp details, pays realistic attention to surfaces, and achieves a sense of unity in his compositions,” Conyers said.

Sutton’s technique, his ability, and the sheer size at which he works have all impressed Conyers, he said.

“Johnny’s approach to digital photography printed on canvas is one of the most creative and imaginative that I’ve seen on this scale,” he said. “The work is just flat-out, insanely wonderful!”

The exhibition will be on display in Friendship Hall, on the campus of McPherson College, through Sunday, Nov. 20. That afternoon, the public is invited and encouraged to attend a free public artist’s reception for Sutton from 2 to 4 p.m.

Contact:Adam Pracht, public relations coordinator, 620-242-0425, [email protected]

McPherson College, located in central Kansas, is a four-year private liberal arts college offering more than 20 bachelor’s and pre-professional programs. Throughout the curriculum, students are encouraged to explore their ideas, to learn through doing and to make a difference in the world.  McPherson College, affiliated with the Church of the Brethren, is committed to the ideals of scholarship, participation, and service – developing whole persons, prepared for fulfilling life vocations.

Visitwww.mcpherson.edufor more information about McPherson College.