back   |   home   |   next
international drawing annual 9 exhibition-in-print
online resource

Ethan Pope
St. Paul, Minnesota

University of Minnesota, Adjunt Professor

detail image


Stories inspire my art.  For generations my family has been a profoundly literary one, telling narratives to celebrate the world, to find meaning in the world, to survive in the world, and to remind us, as Joseph Campbell puts it, of the "rapture of being alive."  Since I have been surrounded by stories all my life, I have come to understand not only the joy and wisdom they can instill, but also that they are an absolute moral necessity in daily life.  Stories help us become part of a community by creating a guiding ethos and moral system for how to live.  They deliver messages and timeless themes that help us think relevantly about our lives and learn how to live; and they explain what the experience of being alive truly is.  They reveal truths about all things human, and are therefore crucial to our lives, our souls, and our very survival.

My drawings are visual narratives that explore the human condition in all of its complexity, fragility, grandeur, horror, absurdity, comedy, and beauty.  Many of my drawings are based on stories written by Franz Kafka, a 20th century German-language novelist who elucidates the nature and motivations of human beings in the most captivating and psychologically incisive stories I've ever read.  My drawings are also based on my own writing, and on accounts of genocide told by survivors.

My work is intended to resonate with a broad audience – everyday people for whom stories have meaning and importance.  The style in which I work, composite photorealism, empowers the imagination within the style of photorealism because it permits many different photographs to be brought together, and thus has the capacity to convey meanings and messages beyond those contained in any individual photograph, and to create realities that could never exist, but appear convincing.  Composite photorealism also provides the precision, exactitude, and lifelikeness for which I strive in the images I make, because photographs provide precise information about nature which even the most profound imagination could not invent on its own.  Photographs also preclude tedious sketches, allow a close, scientific study of nature, and enable the wild, surreal products of one's imagination to attain a persuasive, believable reality that draws the viewer into the image.  I've chosen to draw from Franz Kafka's stories not only to celebrate the beauty of his writing and his unique imagination, but because of my personal connection to his view of humanity, which emphasizes the constant yet unexpected absurdities of existence and both ridicules and warns us of anonymous, bureaucratic authorities who wield power recklessly.  The stark medium of drawing complements the harrowing stories I'm interpreting, and the nature of drawing as a self-revealing process resonates with the narrative content of my work.

My work is guided by a slow, patient development whereby I completely invest myself for weeks, months or even years in individual pieces – planning, photographing, drafting, and drawing – and making fewer pieces that are high in quality rather than making many pieces lightly or peremptorily.  Although much of my rigorous, long-term drafting and preparatory process is invisible to viewers, it is a noteworthy aspect of my work, and allows me the time to develop a closer relationship with my drawing and its themes, and to achieve a deeper understanding of the meaning behind the drawing.  My working process involves creating sketches, producing hundreds of photographs of various models and subjects, and selecting the best of these photographs, before I begin to draw.  Digital photo-collage has provided a more efficient method than drafting for verifying whether my photographs work well together, and it is a method I will continue in the future.





born: 1980, Ojai, California


University of Minnesota, MFA, 2011
Stanford University, BA, 2003

selected awards/honors

Project Support Major Grant from Rimon: The Minnesota Jewish Arts Council, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2013.
First Prize in Savage Juried Art Show, Savage, Minnesota, 2013.
Second Prize in Minnesota State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition, St. Paul, Minnesota, 2012.
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Fellowship, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2012.

selected publications

"The Blue Dress."  Northfield, MN: Red Dragonfly Press, 2012.
"Swimming with a Hundred Year Old Snapping Turtle."  Northfield, Minnesota: Red Dragonfly Press, 2007.
"Dark Fire." Stanford, California: Giant Horse Printing, 2003.

selected solo or two-person exhibits

Larson Gallery: "Mimesis" Art Exhibition.  St. Paul, Minnesota, 2012.
The Grand Hand Gallery: Pope Brothers Drawing Exhibition.  St. Paul, Minnesota, 2010.

selected group shows

The People's Gallery: "Quiet Nightmare" Fine Arts Exhibition.  Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2013.
Heuser Art Gallery: 34th Bradley International Drawing Exhibition.  Peoria, Illinois, 2013.  
Savage City Library: Savage Juried Art Show and Competition. Savage, Minnesota, 2013.
The Fall Artist Co-op: STAND UMN Art Show.  Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2011.

Copyright © Manifest Press