Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Gravity Shift

Is this a face or what?

For those who did not know John Slorp, this is a face that just might keep you up nights. For those of us lucky enough to have called him friend or mentor, sometimes we did not sleep so well either. He pushed, wheedled, cajoled, demanded, and sometimes even made nice to make sure that we were the very best artists and people that we could be- and we loved and admired him for it.

His strength, counsel, presence and wicked, wicked humor will be greatly missed. John passed away on May 21, leaving all of us that he touched with a sense of loss and a feeling that gravity had surely shifted.

My very favorite story about him, almost worn smooth in the telling, is the time I was in his office showing him a clay-headed soft sculpture figure (OK, a cat doll) that I had just completed. As we were talking, John spied the spectacularly humorless CFO of Memphis College of Art in route to his office.
"Watch this" he says, as he balanced the cat on his head.
He had an entire financial policy conversation with four striped legs and a very long tail draped over either side of his face and a leering neon head menacingly peering over his own head (which he kept, unflappably- along with a completely straight face and focus) through out the entire conversation. (as did the CFO)

I think if there is one story that defined John for me that was it.
Under all that steel wool, was a passion for silliness that was just as unbelievably well cultivated as every other creative thought, painting or philosophy was serious, important and compelling.

I will miss him.

Marvelous photo of John:
Courtesy of Terrence Coffman


  1. How absolutely, wonderfully descriptive! I didn't know the story, but recognize the subject immediately. Thank you for sharing. I too miss John.

    Robert Milnes, Dean
    College of Visual Arts and Design
    University of North Texas

  2. I had the very good fortune to meet John while working with Terry at MIAD. One dynamic and sometimes probing personality. He had a profound impact on how I value art and those who have chosen this career. Thank you.
    Richard Higgs
    Dean, School of the Arts
    Converse College
    Spartanburg, South Carolina

  3. Thank you, gentlemen, for sharing your memories with me, your kind responses, and joining me in missing that amazing head, inside and out.
    I hope that it made you smile and shake your head, as I usually do when I see him or hear him in mine.