The brutal world, which stores up what is stable, common, and therefore impersonal in human impressions, crushes, or at least covers over, the delicate and fleeting impressions of our individual consciousness. – Henri Bergson

I think of myself as a figurative artist whose work depicts subjects as verbs rather than nouns. While I always begin by thinking of them as some particular animal or vegetable, my subjects become more than the names and outlines I make for them, eventually adopting their own sense of time. The finished works care very little for what I think of them, choosing to describe their own bodily limits and define their own space by pacing out the edges of their territory on the canvas, page, or pedestal.

My art is a vehicle for exploring the realm of potential, for imagining the near-limitless variety of form that life can take on to particularize itself and still survive. I hope my work can serve as a small reminder that life does not proceed rationally— it constantly reinvents itself, bubbling over any container that we try to put around it.


John Bell, originally of Rockford, Illinois, shows his artwork in galleries, park districts, and natural history museums, primarily in the Midwest. He currently lives and works in St. Paul, Minnesota, with his wife and two dogs.

John’s email address is jmartinbell@gmail.com.