John Bankston: Locating Desire, is the second in a series of Connections Gallery exhibitions at the de Young Museum.

According to Daniell Cornell, curator of American Art and Director of Contemporary Art Projects, “The Museum asks the Connections Gallery artists to think about their own experience as museum visitors, and to incorporate into their own work objects from the museum's collection.  There are as many ways to go through a museum as there are artists to interpret the cultural life we share.” John Bankston: Locating Desire is an installation of twenty 23 x 30 1/2 inch works on paper in color pencil, watercolor, oil pastel and acrylic, as well as four oil on linen paintings, two 72 x 96 inch and two 66 x 60 inch.

Animated by his own desires – to touch, own, and create – Bankston imagines a fictional character whose experiences while visiting the museum lead him on a fantasy journey that incorporates the artworks he finds most enticing: visually, emotionally and psychologically.  Based on these imaginary travels, Bankston creates a narrative in drawings and oil paintings, juxtaposing disparate parts of the museum in surprisingly humorous but telling ways. Together these works make up a visual narrative of the fantasy journey Bankston’s fictional character takes while visiting the museum.

John Bankston describes his paintings and drawings as works that engage the visual language of coloring books.  He explains the formal use of this idiom as allowing him to integrate painting and drawing, representation and abstraction. By inviting museum visitors to follow his fantasy narrative, Bankston encourages visitors to re-imagine their own worlds. Says Bankston: “The idea of ‘fantasy’ is often thought of as the province of idle escapists. But I like to think of fantasy as a way of re-imagining our world. It is a means of stepping outside of one’s known territory and breaking boundaries.”

Working in drawing and painting, Bankston is inspired by the idea of the museum as a world of objects enticingly displayed but unobtainable. In preparation for this exhibition, John Bankston met several times with FAMSF curator Daniell Cornell, to search the de Young’s collection database and identify works of particular interest to him.  Bankston also spent time in Golden Gate Park, sketching the museum’s physical environment. The resulting body of work reflects John Bankston’s investigations and observations, absorbing elements from works in the de Young’s American art, African art, Oceanic art and Textiles collections, as well as the museum’s park surroundings. 

About John Bankston

John Bankston is a San Francisco-based artist, whose work is exhibited internationally.  Winner of a 2002 SECA Award from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, as well as a Fleishhacker Eureka Fellowship, his work has been shown at the The Studio Museum in Harlem, the Andy Warhol Museum, the Crocker Art Museum, The Contemporary Jewish Museum, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, among other museums and galleries world-wide.

About the Connections Gallery

Situated at the intersection of the galleries for the de Young’s three primary departments (Textiles, American Art, and Art of Africa, Oceania and the Americas), the Connections Gallery is a newly conceived, ongoing exhibition space that engages viewers through strong visual connections.

Through the Connections Gallery program, three artists a year are invited to develop a body of work using the museum’s permanent collection as source material.  The resulting exhibitions of site-specific work reinterpret the de Young’s collections within a contemporary context.  The gallery’s location emphasizes the integrated nature of the permanent collection.  The Connections Gallery signals the new de Young’s vitality as a dynamic forum for contemporary art and reflects its involvement in the current discourse of museum presentation and display.