In the Jesuit Parents Newsletter in September of 2015, Principal, Tom Garrison wrote, "My favorite piece of art in our school's museum is titled, Which Course of Life is Best? On the left and right sides of the painting there are words. Each word has an opposite on the other side of the painting. "Thoughtful" juxtaposed with "Intuitive", "Book" with "Beer". "Married with "Single", "Deep with "Shallow", "Spiritual with "Not Spiritual", "Citizen" with "Taker", "Plan" with "Instincts" "Responsible" with "Irresponsible" There are several other words up and down the sides of the painting. All of them punctuate the fact that the young man must choose which way he wants to go, how he wants to behave, and how he wants others to know him." The theme of 2015 was Open to Growth.
During this challenging time, Tom Garrison's words and Alex Powers work make us think to remain open to growth and think about "Which Course of Life is Best?". "Alex Powers creates works that address social justice issues but he also addresses a broad range of other societal issues from religion and politics to economics, history and literature. Over the course of time, he has come to use his artistic skills to give voice to an array of political and social issues that have at their heart a concern for basic human dignity."
Which Course of Life is Best? Gouache, Charcoal, Pastel, and Collage, 2003 32" x 42" (Anonymous) near front entrance B 105
- Alex Powers has been an artist and art teacher since 1970. He taught high school math for several years after college before he took a job as a computer programmer at the Kennedy Space Center. Powers had always drawn, but during this time he started taking art classes, studying drawing and painting in art schools in Florida, New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut.
His has won many art awards, including the Gold Medal at the 1997 American Watercolor Society Annual Exhibition.
He considers his art to be ‘loose realism.’ He states, “My reason for painting relates to content more than form. The content that interests me concerns ideas as well as emotions. Ideas questioning our life…’
- ‘I attempt to deal with issues such as human origins, religion, philosophy, economic inequality, etc. These overwhelming issues are difficult to deal with but they are what interest me.’
He also prefers to paint with graphic, surface variation with large empty spaces, muted colors and people subjects, especially faces.
He currently lives in South Carolina.
In Which Course of Life is Best? 2002, Powers addresses the issue of choice. The three central figures dominate the work while the text on the left and right ask the viewer about what choice to make in life. As in Goethe’s book Faust, philosophers and most people are interested in whether it is best to live a rational, controlled, bookish life – indicated by the figure and vertical list of phrases on the left – or a carefree, irresponsible, intuitive life – indicated by the figure covered in red gouache on the right.
Powers uses traditional media like watercolor and gouache in his works and he is one of the most popular watercolor workshop instructors in the United States. Combining these media with collaged elements as well as charcoal and pastel, he creates large narrative pieces that are informed by current affairs, both social and political. The artist is well aware of the trends in contemporary art.
As in most of his work, text is a critical component of the work – written, erased, covered with a wash of opaque paint and then overlaid with more text and images. The pencil and the brush are always searching for just the right line or contour to reveal the inner meaning of the subject. The piece explores the development of the modern world’s concept of being, of existentialism, and the definition of reality.
Over the course of time, he has come to use his artistic skills to give voice to an array of political and social issues that have at their heart a concern for basic human dignity.
“I attempt to deal with issues such as human origins, religion, philosophy, and economic issues such as human origins, religion, philosophy, and economic inequality.” says Powers. “These overwhelming issues are difficult to deal with, but they are what interest me. And, since I believe in the singularity of life and art, these issues are the content of my life and my current work.