About the Artist
Born; Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Residence; Madison, South Dakota.
BFA Minnesota State University-Mankato
MFA University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Professor of Art at Dakota State University
My work is exhibited in Europe, United States, and has been published in “A World of Art, an art appreciation text by Henry M. Sayre, 7th and 8th editions, published by Pearson Higher Education.
I will be an artist in residence summer 2019 at the Lucid Art Foundation, Inverness, California
My other interests include beekeeping, cycling, and traveling.
The inspiration for the Bog Cycle series began back in 1994 in graduate school reading the late Irish poet Seamus Heaney. Heaney’s seminal pieces on the Irish peat bog is a journey through time and space and a signifier of the Irish culture. I spent the early part of my life in Belfast, Northern Ireland, during the period known as the troubles. Heaney wrote a number of bog poems during this time and they reflect that period, but they also answer to the metaphysical, the ancient, and the richness of the Irish language and landscape. The patterns and rhythm of Heaney’s writing struck a chord in me. I see something in the writing that is profound and immense. I am not illustrating his poems, but rather I am interpreting the written text through the visual language of design and art in an effort to better understand how meaning occurs in my own work and how I can move forward with the Bog Cycle series.
Process (partial monograph by Carol Heft artist and Professor, NYC)
In the Bog Cycle Montgomery uses rhythm, undulating curved horizontal waves, and value gradations, to create what essentially come across as high contrast, multi-dimensional landscapes. His calligraphic, lively brushstrokes and marks evoke organic root-like forms. Vertical space reveals reflections and patterns. This space, with its staccato, atonal, and aerial orientations, brings to mind both microcosm and macrocosm simultaneously. An unexpected and interesting innovation is the existence of independent rhythms found in each work. Diagonal thrusts create opposing tensions and asymmetrical design, rather than an evenly spaced, overall “tempo”. Stippling, patterned lines and use of a dry brush, often suggest volumetric architectural forms; arches, water, fences, sky, earth, mountains. The materials themselves suggest the form…creating a family of shapes and gestures through hatching, wet on wet and transposed figure ground relationships. The excitement of the process is clearly reflected in the final work.
For me a work of art is a process. That process is a series of formal decisions that accumulate over the duration of time spent on one or more pieces in the studio. I begin with my materials. The medium begins a dialog. In the Bog Cycle work I choose ink because it is a fluid medium, which behaves in ways they are both unexpected and predictable. I believe the inherent qualities of ink and paint are thus flexible enough for experiment and for precise control. I use Oak and Walnut inks for their earthy tones and their cosmic connection to ancient Irish cultures who regarded oak groves as sacred places.
I am attracted to work that does not attempt to cover up the process of making. As an artist my yielding to the qualities of a particular set of variables is tempered by my search for unity and the gestalt of the work. The series of decisions that result in a finished piece should be visible through the medium and in the context of unifying elements of the work in terms of line, shape, value, texture and space. The organization of those elements is how the content or emotive impact of the piece resolves itself. Content is the consequence of the work’s design. I believe that to bring about a meaningful work, it has to be first and foremost a record of the artist’s process in creating the piece.
Seamus Heaney’s poems and prose especially “Stations” and “North” speak to the confluence of the two Irelands…as a Northern Irish artist like Heaney, I identify with the entangled history of the Gaelic and English language, the role of pagan and Christian mythologies, the overarching sense of how the landscape itself is imbued with all of these things. The bog poems have led me to create a ‘body’ of work exploring the motifs that Heaney so profoundly writes about. My paintings are embodiments of the bog as a metaphor for the cycle of meaning and reflexive actions embedded in my culture.
The work is in no way an attempt to illustrate the poems. My intention is to create a visual language equivalent to my understanding of the abstractions, which are captured in the text of Heaney’s works. The process of making these pieces is a sort of meditation. I lose myself to the process. Each piece is part of a larger cyclical movement. Reading Heaney’s work is an entry point and is confirmation of ideas, shared feelings, sensory stimuli, and a definite vector for my creative process.
Alan Montgomery MFA.