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Engineering Art

Press Release from The Ohio State University Faculty Club

Zanesville artist and educator John Taylor-Lehman will present a collection of two and three dimensional mosaic folk art compositions at The Ohio State University Faculty Club from January 9, 2017 through March 10, 2017. The solo exhibition, titled "CAPtivate," includes a variety of subjects created from recycled beer bottle caps and other found and repurposed objects.  An opening reception in Mr. Taylor-Lehman's honor will be held on Friday, January 13, 2017 from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. Please call 614-292-2262 or email the club at facultyclubosu@yahoo.com for more information or to RSVP.

Joy Today/Grief Tomorrow"Joy Today/Grief Tomorrow” mosaic by artist John Taylor-Lehman. Photo credit to John Taylor-Lehman.Of his work, John states, "The majority of my artwork is created by re-purposing materials that would otherwise find their way to a landfill or hopefully a recycling center.  Beer caps, found objects, scrap wood and metal are among the resources that have found their way into my work."  Completely self-taught, Taylor-Lehman's work is often inspired by his love of the natural world and his travels and observations of indigenous peoples' arts and crafts.  Recently, he has delved into pieces which are infused with some social commentary.  He says, "As my confidence and body of work grow, I hope to create more pieces that are not, what some may consider attractive decorative novelties, but pieces that retain their beauty and also make a statement or tell a story." In addressing a common question about the source of beer bottle caps, John states, "No, I do not drink l all the beer myself!  There are many people who willingly and generously provide the raw materials for my work."

In 2014, John Taylor-Lehman began focusing solely on beer cap art.  Initially, all of his work contained bottle caps flattened by hand with a hammer; however, he soon realized that his creative talent and need for more flattened bottle caps greatly exceeded his capacity to hammer bottle caps by hand. The scientist in him came to the forefront and he enlisted several collaborators in his effort to mechanize the process of preparing the raw materials for his creations. His inventiveness led him to John McCutcheon, owner of Columbia Machine Company (Zanesville, Ohio) and Jeremy Seidt, a Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering research scientist at Ohio State's College of Engineering's Dynamic Mechanics of Materials Laboratory.  Their aim was to create a custom-made machine with the necessary force to flatten individual metal bottle caps. Incidentally, Jeremy was able to determine that it required 1,500 lbs. of force to crush a single beer cap.The team experimented with the concepts of building a hydraulic or pneumatic machine and collaborated on a number of designs. Mr. Seidt indicated that it was the first time that their research lab had been approached by an artist with such a unique request.  McCutcheon stated that they needed a solution that was quick-cycling and could handle a high volume, but did not need to be particularly precise.  After discussing with friend and former colleague, Tri-Valley High School industrial arts teacher, Mike Rauch, they finally settled on modifying an existing piece of equipment - a log splitter - to do the task.  Columbia Machine Company has custom fabricated the parts to modify this common tool to Taylor-Lehman's artistic purpose.  The intersection of science, technology, engineering, art and commercial business allowed John Taylor-Lehman to come up with a collaborative and cost-effective solution, which in turn, has afforded him the opportunity to expand his artistic pursuits.

Since retiring from a long career as a public high school science teacher, John Taylor-Lehman now focuses on his artwork and teaches Biology as an adjunct faculty member at Zane State College in Zanesville, Ohio. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Botany from Kent State University and a Master of Science degree in Botany from The Ohio State University, where his thesis was “Variation in Polygonum pensylvanicum L. with an emphasis on variety eglandulosum Myers.” He has completed additional coursework in Civil Engineering at University of Cincinnati and Secondary Education and Mathematics at Pan American University and Texas Southmost College, respectively, both in Brownsville, Texas. He, along with his wife and two sons, participated in the Fulbright Teacher Exchange program in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, England. In 2011, John was selected to participate in the Teacher at Sea Program, assisting with NOAA sponsored fisheries research aboard the R/V Savanah along the coast of Florida.

John Taylor-Lehman's work has been exhibited at The Ohio State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition, The Ohio Art League's Riffe Gallery, the Columbus Cultural Arts Center, the Markay Cultural Arts Center in Jackson, Ohio, The Zanesville Museum of Art, Muskingum College and Lindsey Gallery in Columbus' Short North Arts District.

Established in 1923, The Ohio State University Faculty Club is located at 181 South Oval Drive on the Columbus campus of the university. The art exhibition program features the work of selected Ohio State University faculty, staff, students and alumni.  Exhibitions are held throughout the year.  All exhibitions are free and open to the public.  For more information, please call the Faculty Club at 614-292-2262.  For images of John Taylor-Lehman's artwork featured in the current exhibition or a photo of the artist, please contact lisa@ohio-statefacultyclub.com.