September 11-20, 2020
John Sims, a Detroit native, is a conceptual artist, writer and social justice activist, who creates art and curatorial projects spanning the areas of installation, performance, text, music, film and large-scale activism, informed by mathematics, design, the politics of white supremacy, sacred symbols/anniversaries, and poetic/political text. For 20 years, he has been working on the forefront of contemporary mathematical art and leading the national pushback on Confederate iconography. During his residency at The Ringling, he will work on various projects related to the Covid-19 pandemic, policing, Confederate symbolism and his other ongoing performance initiatives, which will be discussed in a semi-live and virtual artist talk.
His work has been featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, CNN, NBC News, USA Today, NPR, The Guardian, ThinkProgress, Al Jazeera, Art in America, Hyperallergic, Sculpture, Science News, Nature and Scientific American. He has written for CNN, Al Jazeera, The HuffPost, Guernica Magazine, The Rumpus and TheGrio.
“I live an art-activism process that collaborates conceptual design, tech and text, in a way that sees both long and short term, producing a system of projects that are in conversation less with fleeting trends and media driven excitement, but in dialogue with the future history of human culture. I wish to contribute to the active dynamics of living and being that is situated in creative ritual, reflection transformation, whether that might be a mathematics curriculum, Op-eds, game design or confronting the white power legacy of Confederate iconography. Systemic problems require systemic responses.” – John Sims, 2020
As the former coordinator of mathematics at Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida, he designed a visual mathematics curriculum for artists and visual thinkers. Sims has curated more than 15 mathematical art exhibitions including the year-long exhibition and film project Rhythm of Structure: Bowery and Beyond, featuring Sol LeWitt, Karen Finley, Adrian Piper and former U.S. Poet Laureate Mark Strand, at the Bowery Poetry Club in New York City. This lead to his project SquareRoots: A Quilted Manifesto, a 13 mathart quilt collaboration with Amish quilters.
Currently, he is working on Recoloration Proclamation, a 16-year multimedia project that features a series of Confederate flag installations, including The Proper Way to Hang a Confederate Flag, music compilation The AfroDixieRemixes, and the yearly nationwide Memorial Day Confederate flag performance, Burn and Bury.
John Sims’ activism goes all the way back to his college days. After graduating from Antioch College, he returned as special assistant to the Dean of Faculty, where he created and organized the Cross Cultural Field Program (CCFP) and African American Cultural Week (AACW), a program of 26 events celebrating the African American experience, featuring Henry Threadgill, R.L. Burnside, Karen Williams and many others. That annual event became the AACW Blues and Gospel Fest and celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2016. The CCFP, an academic service learning program, took a diverse group of students to the South to learn about African American culture by visiting areas in Charleston, Sea Islands, and rural Georgia. The program received strong support from both Coretta Scott King and congressman John Lewis and was covered by The New York Times, going on to become a vital part of Antioch
College’s history of creating innovative curricula. These two projects later inspired the creative cultural activism that has come to be a foundational component of JohnSimsProjects.
Sims has given lectures and presented his exhibitions not only nationally but internationally in countries such as Hungary, Spain, Slovenia, Israel and Argentina. His work has been featured in The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, CNN, NBC News, The Guardian, The Root, ThinkProgress, Al Jazeera, Guernica, Art in America, Transition, Sculpture, FiberArts, Science News and the science journal Nature. He has written for major publications such as CNN, Al Jazeera, The Huffington Post, Guernica Magazine, The Rumpus and The Grio.
For related programming visit: https://www.ringling.org/events/2020-divisions-america-john-sims
Where to find John Sims:
AHO Radio with guest John C Sims, "Black Lives, Race, Policing, Community, and Solutions" (Ep.6): https://youtu.be/cMkxtxeZs9g