History of the ODU Art Department/John Roth

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John Roth is an art sculpture professor at Old Dominion University. Roth received his Bachelor of Science at Northern Michigan University and teaching certification in both Art Education and Industrial Art Education. He attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1987-1990 and earned a Master of Fine Arts in painting and sculpture. Roth has an active exhibition record including shows in New York, London, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis. He has won numerous grants and awards including fellowships from the Wisconsin Arts Board and the Dane County (Madison Wis) Cultural Affairs Commission as well as a faculty summer research grant from ODU. Before graduate study, Roth was employed on dairy farms, in construction, and as a maintenance mechanic in a foundry, a chemical plant and a furniture factory. He also worked in a research and development lab making models, prototypes, lab apparatuses, and performing destructive testing. Before coming to ODU in 2005, Professor Roth was employed as a technician/instructor at Ohio University.


Q: What do you do to give to your undergraduate students an accurate understanding of the difficulties of an art career?
A: I tell them my story. Nothing was ever handed to me. I persevered and kept at it. I took the non prestigious shows to build my resume. It took me a long time to launch a successful academic career.

Q: What do you think about the current sculpture movement (changes)? (Note: we talked about time-based sculpture, altering object sculpture).
A: Being a pluralist, I find validity in most sculpture born of rigor. I look forward to having my comfortable notions of sculpture being tested and enjoy the challenges to these notions.

Q: You told me you are more into "object making" art.
A: Yes, I define myself as an object maker. My challenge is to bring together concept/feeling with an object that meets my vision. This suits my personality and disposition.

Q: What made you change from painting to sculpture?
A: I made the switch midway through graduate school. I had some training and ability manipulating materials as an industrial education major in undergraduate studies. Branching out into 3-D was very enabling in that it opened many possibilities for my ideas which became unfettered by the 2-D format.

Q: Which artist got you into art?
A: My mother who is a painter was the first working artist I became aware of. As a kid I was fascinated by the Hudson River school of landscape painting. Early influential sculpture was those done by H C Westermann.

Q: Who is your favorite artist? You mentioned Los Carpinteros, Martin Puryear, H.C. Westermann.
A: I loved Los Carpinteros’ works, Tim Hawkinson as well.