I believe that the process of creating significant works of art can only be the result of one’s experiences and exposure to life; the more numerous these encounters, the greater the chance for universal content within those creations.  With this in mind, I offer a brief overview of my life, which should give some insight into how and why I make art the way I do.  Looking back over the past sixty years, it would seem that my desire to be creative has been as much a personal obsession, as it is a way of offering the public an opportunity to view unique artistic objects.  As I design and then construct a work of art, one of the most dominant principles that continues to motivate me is to incorporate into a piece, a sense of balanced order.


Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1939, I began to draw very early, finding sanctuary at an attic window where I would watch clouds drift by, daydream and draw for hours.  Throughout my entire school years I was constantly being told to apply myself academically, yet, not until my second year of college, at age 24, was my dyslexia diagnosed.


By the fourth grade my family moved to our father’s hometown in northern Minnesota, where, my mother’s parents joined us a year later.  My mother’s father homesteaded on the prairies of Colorado and had been trained, by his father, as a carpenter and furniture maker.  My father’s father was a master builder, architect, surveyor/mapmaker and sign painter, and had trained my father in those areas.  By age 12, both men had me working with them on their various projects.  When I entered high school I enrolled in the arts program, which included vocal music and photography.  I tried team sports but preferred non-competitive swimming, downhill skiing and long distance running, thereby competing against and depending only upon myself.  Leisure time was spent with my grandfather, hunting, camping or fishing, depending on the season.  At age 15 I enlisted in the National Guard, received an expert marksman award at 16 and by 17 had been promoted to grade E4 and was teaching classes to WW II and Korean War veterans.


After high school graduation I enlisted for a 4-year tour in the U S Navy, and attended schools for aviation metal-smithing, welding and plastic fabrications while continuing my exploration of photography, on my days off.  In 1960, after returning from tour of duty in Cuba, I was injured in a motorcycle accident, which required two separate surgeries.  During my period of hospital confinement and recovery, I discovered reading.  Upon receiving an honorable discharge from the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida, I traveled for 8 months, returned to Minnesota and enrolled at Bemidji State College in January 1962.  I spent the next five years studying fine arts, history, psychology, and art-education and by my second year I was hired as a student assistant to the college art department.


Early in my training as an artist, I began to sense the need for greater audience involvement when viewing works of art, and also realized that the use of regionalism, as one’s primary subject matter, could only limit the viewer’s ability to discover universal truths.  Soon after I began to explore the various, “schools and styles” of abstract art, eventually leaning towards the Op school of painting.  After a few pieces, I realized that a hard-edgepainting technique worked best on smooth surfaces, and as I experimented with various materials, I eventually selected Masonite as my painting ground.  As this material required a supporting framework, within a short period I was fabricating forms, which later evolved into more elaborate relief structures.


Following graduation I taught art in public schools from 1967 to1970, one year in Minnesota followed by two years in Michigan, working nights and weekends in my studio and exhibiting my work nationally.  Teaching has always been a significant part of my learning process, as it allows me to observe a students reaction to information.  I believe in all areas of life, we are students even as we teach; for to reach any destination, there are numerous routes that can be taken.


By the late 1960’s, my work had become rather elaborate mixed media pieces, which combined an Optical painting approach and included lights, sound, and vacuumed-formed plastic sections incorporated into relief wooden constructions.  Though these creations were fun, I soon realized that they dealt less with aesthetes and more with what I refer to as, “the manipulation of technology”.


In the late spring of 1970 I was offered a teaching fellowship and grant to attend graduate school, which I accepted.  While in school I also taught drawing and design classes at a junior collage in Flint, Michigan.  As my studies progressed, I began to rethink my direction and also the techniques used to achieve those aims, and following 2 years of graduate studies, receiving an MFA degree in mixed media from the University of Michigan, I decided on my present direction.


I began to experiment with relief and shaped canvas forms stretched over lighter weight wooden structures.  This more “constructivist” approach allowed for greater flexibility in exploring more diverse forms and also allowed for the introduction of a “rhythmic surface flow” into a piece, while the various types of canvases available, offered an interesting and natural tactile quality.  I also began to limit my color palette and abandoned the “hard-edge” painting technique, opting to concentrate upon the shadowing effects created by the relief structures themselves. By the use of inter-connected and layered units of shaped canvases, I was able to create delicate value changes over the surface of a piece through their shadowing effects, which were also softly repeated upon the wall.


In the summer of 1973 I moved from southern Michigan to New York City to except a teaching position, which later did not materialize.  In hindsight, the loss of this teaching job was to my benefit, as it forced me to find alternative means of supporting my studio.  I soon discovered that a knowledgeable carpenter in New York City could always find work.  More importantly, by being constantly exposed to the construction world, I quickly learned production techniques and acquired the specialized tools, which allowed me to make art in a more productive manner, but without sacrificing my artistic integrity or craftsmanship.


In early 1990 I left the New York area for Arizona in order to spend time with my mother who had become ill.  Also, some years earlier, I had begun to realize that the land and the open spaces associated with the land was, and had always been a vital part of my life and I needed to return to it. 


Over the past 34 years I have limited my relief-shaped canvas and mixed media constructions to 3 groups; The Phoenix Series, which are symmetrical derivations of living forms, the conceptual landscape series entitled, Cloudy Skies, Childhood Dreams, and a circular disk and puzzle series, From the Other Side of the Moon. Though each style is initially influenced by my geographical surroundings, to a greater degree, they are a part of a much deeper spirit and temperament. 


For me the process of making art has been one of constant experimentation of both ideas and materials.  Though I question all things I observe, encounter and or hear, I have learned to temper my skepticism with a sense of integrity, understanding, compassion and honesty.  In creating these “mixed media constructions”, I believe I present to my audience, as I offer myself, aesthetically pleasing and intellectually changeling objects, that tender a sense of order and balance in a world that I view as often chaotic.


E-Mail Fredric Frank Myers