By Steve Drum
When you walk into Jeffrey Markowsky’s studio, in the top floor of a creaky Victorian on Monterey Square, you get the sense you’re stepping onto sacred ground.
When I met with Markowsky about “Excavation,” his solo show of paintings and drawings at the Oglethorpe Gallery, he spoke of his work as though it were a spiritual endeavor.
“I looked at Native Americans and their respect for ritual and rites of passage within a tribe,” Markowsky said. “I wanted to show a group of men working together to support each other and hold up their traditions.”
Markowsky began work for “Excavation” in 2007. Taking inspiration from retreats into the mountains of North Carolina, as well as the writings of Robert Bly and other leaders of the men’s movement, Markowsky’s work tells a story of men as animals among the natural world.
In his “Rites of Passage” series, Markowsky’s nudes are in classical pose across massive canvases, giving a magnitude to the action of his narrative.
“I was starting from experiences in my own life,” Markowsky said. “But I spent a month in Florence and realized I needed to ground myself in the Academy. I probably tried to pull from Goya more than anyone, as far as the emotive content of the work is concerned.”
Markowsky is a native of Saskatchewan, Canada. He came to Savannah in 1995 and has been a teacher of painting and drawing at SCAD for 12 years. Markowsky said that his role in the classroom is another major influence on his work as an artist.
“Particularly the freshman,” Markowsky said. “They’re so hungry and curious to start creating their own work. I’ve had some really good teachers in my own life. I’ve also had some really bad ones. I think both the good and bad have affected the way I try to teach my students. It’s challenging, but I love teaching at SCAD. It’s also what has allowed me to keep my studio and put this show together.”
“Excavation” opens April 25 and runs until May 1 at the Oglethorpe Gallery at 406 E. Oglethorpe Ave. There will be an opening reception on Friday, April 27 from 6 to 9 p.m.
To learn more go to Jeffery Markowsky’s websiteContact Steve Drum.