John M. Bell, of Augusta County, Virginia has been an art professor at Blue Ridge Community College since 1990, offering classes in drawing, painting, design, and art appreciation. His paintings (in oil and acrylic) depict both the natural and the man-made world. Recent works have been inspired by his home environment in rural Shenandoah Valley, highway signs, and travels in western Ireland in 2003 and 2005.
Of his artwork, Bell relates: “I seek to combine the visual sense of place and time with the subjective and aesthetic experience. I enjoy the challenge of taking commonplace subjects – things that we all pass by everyday – and making them uncommon through the use of the paint, color, composition, and the creative process. I also like working with the concept of metaphor in my work. Art is a means for me to enhance my day-to-day experiences – to become more aware of emotions, colors, textures, memories – and then to translate those experiences into paintings. Hopefully, in seeing the work, viewers can have a similar experience and then take that awareness with them as part of their own lives.”
Mr. Bell earned his Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1980 and his Master of Fine Arts from James Madison University in 1990. He has exhibited his works throughout Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and California. In recent years, he has had solo exhibitions at the Arts Council of the Valley (Harrisonburg, VA), Bridgewater College (VA), Eastern Mennonite University (VA), and Lord Fairfax Community College (VA). Juried shows have included the Nelson Gallery Annual Juried Show (Lexington, VA), the Roanoke City Juried Art Show, the Bath County VA Art Show (Honorable Mention in Painting), and the Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community Annual Juried Art Exhibition (Harrisonburg, VA). He was awarded an International Artist-in-Residency at the Cill Rialaig Project in County Kerry, Ireland in June 2005.