Jonathan Mayers | Artists’ Chronicles: 2020

Jonathan “feral opossum” Mayers’ was born where the Houma and Bayogoula tribes came together under the istrouma, le batôn rouge (the red stick). Baton Rouge and South Lousiana was more than a home for the artist; the swamps served as a playground and a source of continued inspiration for a young Mayers. The memories of crawfish “skyscrapers” were ingrained in the artist as he studied at Louisiana State University where Mayers developed cartoon-like imagery boasting vivid colors reminiscent of video games and comic books. Upon graduation, Mayers reconnected with his heritage and reclaiming his family’s culture, which was lost two generations earlier due to the Americanization of Louisiana.

The artists’ heritage and roots in the swamp have coalesced into vibrant paintings depicting metaphorical beasts amid meticulously rendered Louisiana landscapes. The mysterious creatures — somewhat wicked, somewhat charming — were born of the artist’s familiarity with Louisiana folklore, and serve to illustrate his opinion pertaining to the reality in which we live. The artists’ haunting, curious images also address the current fragility of our ecosystem, most specifically the southern region of Louisiana. One can imagine that these hulking, cartoonesque monsters roam about protecting the environment by destroying bridges, invasive species, or cleaning after the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Mayers, whose artistic influences include Robert Williams, Max Ernst, and Caravaggio, is inspired by being outside “with everything that has come, everything that has been, with everything that still exists.” His work connects with experiences redolent of adventure through visual, textual, and sometimes tactile means. He collects material — such as Jean Lafitte sediment –— from each physical place he depicts in his paintings and considers the thoughtful implementation of these materials into his work essential. This is most evident in his colorful, embellished frames, which work to both corral and embrace his visual narratives.

Jonathan Mayers was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in studio art with a concentration in painting and drawing from Louisiana State University in 2007 and then his Master of Fine Arts with a concentration in painting from the University of New Orleans in 2011. He has shown extensively throughout Louisiana, as well as had a number of exhibitions throughout North America. He has exhibited works in Prospect.1–4+, multiple Surreal Salons, Notes from the Artistic Underground, and Tiercé. His work is included in the Louisiana State University Student Union Art Gallery Permanent Collection and the art collection of Université Sainte-Anne in Church Point, Nova Scotia. From 2012–10`8, he served as a co-manager and founding member of the TEN Gallery + Collective in New Orleans, LA. He received scholarships to attend French Immersion at Université Sainte-Anne in Church Point, Nova Scotia from both the Université (2015) and CODOFIL (2016). In Fall 2018 Mayers was an artist-in-residence at A Studio in the Woods for Adaptations: Living with Change. Mr. Mayers’ most recent curatorial project, Mythologies Louisianaises, was exhibited at the Arthur Roger Gallery in 2018 and accompanied by a trilingual catalog in International Louisiana French, Kouri-vini (Louisiana Creole), and English was on display in August and September 2018.