I have always been fascinated with the scraps and fragments left behind in drawers, trunks and on shelves. As a child these humble objects held great attraction for me. I spent hours exploring my grandparent’s old notebooks, faded photographs, postcards and bits of string. But it was always the undefined fragment of an object, the battered leather cover of a journal, or an abandoned bird’s nest that fired my imagination.

My painting process typically begins with a solitary object, my sketchbook journal, or a photo of a WW1 solder that triggers my curiosity. A visual narrative is then constructed in the same way that I fabricated stories about the neglected objects found in my grandparents’ long forgotten trunks. As with all my works, some elements become three-dimensional as I form them from paper. Thus, the tromp l’oeil illusion of a painted object and the reality of a constructed object shift the perspective and perception of the work and force the viewer to consider the point where reality and the imagined meet. The paintings, like memories, are often not what they seem. The result is an infinite personal narrative. A collection of images, patterns, and ideas provide a device for the viewer to rediscover and reconsider memories from their own life.

Although born and raised in the American Midwest, John Emery and his wife Kathy have spent the past twenty-five years shuttling back and forth between studio/homes in Ohio and New Zealand, These places—so far distant in miles and cultural experience—have distinctly shaped Emery’s vision and art.

Emery’s professional experience began with undergraduate degrees from the School of the Dayton Art Institute and the University of Dayton.  After receiving a graduate degree from the Manchester College of Art and Design in England, Emery joined the noted designer, Read Viemeister in Yellow Springs, working for Vie Design for 16 years.  He subsequently opened his own award winning firm, Graphic Design Continuum with Dwayne Swormstedt.

Throughout his career John has integrated his passion for painting, graphic design and design education, by frequently taking sabbaticals to teach and travel.

His paintings and drawings have been exhibited at the Contemporary Arts Center (Christchurch NZ), Dayton Art Institute, Dayton Visual Art Center, Akron Art Institute, University of Missouri Kansas Gallery of Art, and the Wyoming Gallery in Jackson Hole Wyoming, the Sundance Art Center in Sundance Utah, Saffron Gallery (Timaru NZ) and the Tamarack Gallery, Omena, Michigan.

An avid traveler, sailor, and fisherman, he continues to divide his time between Burkes Pass, New Zealand and Dayton Ohio and continues to draw upon the landscape, found objects and personal experiences as inspiration for much of his work.

Artist statement


“...the brush of an angel
  and the mental
  acquisitiveness of a

                    ~ Christopher Moore
                          Christchurch Press 2003