Originally from Wisconsin, John Oliver Lewis currently lives and works in San Diego, CA. He earned a BFA from the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire, Department of Art and Design, and an MFA from the University of North Texas, School of Visual Arts.
Lewis’ work was selected for inclusion in the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego's exhibition Here Not There: San Diego Art Now and the exhibition Uberyummy at the Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art at Cal State San Bernardino. Lewis’ sculptures, drawings and installations have also been exhibited nationally at venues such as the American Museum of Ceramic Art, as well as the Amarillo Museum of Art. His ceramic sculpture is featured in 500 Ceramic Sculptures by Lark Books.
John Oliver Lewis' current body of work employs the disciplines of painting, drawing and ceramics to create sculptures and installations that generate an erratic sense of purpose. These flights of imagination are supported by the inspection of architecture, natural land formations and vehicles of travel, as well as cartoons, caricature, knick-knacks, and candy. The resulting individuals are often arranged into groupings and "gangs" based on observed formal and narrative relationships. Occasionally, these "gangs" and the resulting relationships between the pieces may shift and change, thereby causing the creation of new groupings and arrangements. The importance of whimsy and playfulness in the work is further present in the process. Each form is hand-built through an intuitive assemblage of various shapes, textures and components. Once the forms are fired, the tradition of ceramics is confronted and challenged by replacing the customary glazes with acrylic paint on the surfaces. The application of brightly colored acrylic paint on fired clay illustrates interest in maintaining the illusion of the malleability and softness of the material in its original state. In Lewis' installations, the process of creating sculptures is expanded through scale and through the temporal aspect of the project. The installations are free from the "object-ness" of sculpture, thereby allowing him to manipulate materials differently.