In the spring of 2012, I took a class on Abstract Expressionism at The Creative Center, a New York-based organization that provides free, multi-disciplinary arts instruction to cancer survivors. Though I’ve long appreciated the art of painting, I never considered myself a visual artist, and firmly believed my creative strengths lay elsewhere. Inspired by my instructor Emily Elman and the works of Joan Mitchell, I gleefully explored my new artistic vision. I posted images of my in-class paintings online, and before I’d finished the six-week course, I received a request for my first commissioned work. Interest in my art has continued to grow, and I’ve completed two commercial commissions, one for the office of the Comprehensive Spine & Pain Center of New York and one for the physical therapy room at Lexington Rehabilitation.
I found myself at The Creative Center looking for an artistic outlet to help me navigate my diagnosis of Stage IV melanoma. I discovered the cancer in 2008 and didn’t expect to live through the year. I began documenting my experience at groinstrong.com, and found a powerful catharsis in writing through my struggle. Living with disease and dealing with all that comes with it informs my artistic vision to a great extent, but I also find inspiration in the natural world. I was born and raised in California and much of my childhood was spent exploring the vast wilderness of the American West. I do my best to capture a sense of place, whether a luminous sunrise over a frozen lake or the shimmering cacophony of the tropics.
After many years of living in Brooklyn, NY, at the end of 2013, I relocated to Nashville, TN, the childhood home of my wife, Kathryn Wilkening, a modern dancer/choreographer and a talented, crafty artist. Kathryn and I live a stone’s throw across the Cumberland River from the Grand Ole Opry with our puppy, Rosie Pants.
To contact me, please email jonah (dot) ei (at) gmail (dot) com.