“We’re living in this interesting moment when representational art is more acceptable.” Timothy Jahn’s 2012 comment about contemporary painting reflects his optimism about the art historical tradition which forms the foundation of his own work. He also noted that although his technique often captures viewers’ attention first, there “must also be some sort of narrative to hold their attention and engage them in the work”. In Jahn’s work, whether paintings or charcoal drawings, the images offer a starting point for further contemplation. Sometimes that might be an appreciation of an elegant, patterned still-life and sometimes, it might be a meditation on identity or mortality.
As a boy growing up in New Jersey, Timothy Jahn discovered that drawing and painting were not only his best subjects in school, but that they offered an opportunity to study the world in ways that consistently fascinated him. By the time he was in high school, Jahn was taking whatever art classes were available as well as spending one day per week studying art at the county college. In 1995, just as he was completing high school, he showed his work in the Emerging Artist Exhibition at the Nabisco Company headquarters, then located in East Hanover, New Jersey.
Unsurprisingly, Jahn’s next step was to enroll in an art school where he could receive additional training in drawing, painting and illustration. The duCret School of Art in Plainfield, New Jersey, founded in 1927, provided a curriculum based on learning the techniques of representational art, which was already the foundation for Jahn’s work. With guidance from instructors J. Brian Townsend and Paul McCormack, well-respected representational painters, Jahn eventually expanded his studies at the Art Students League in nearby New York City.
The historic Art Students League was founded in 1875 as an organization run by artists for artists. Today, it maintains the same open attitude toward curriculum that it established over 130 years ago, with a variety of instructors who teach in a diverse range of stylistic expressions. In the late 1990s, Jahn studied with Ronald Sherr and Mary Beth McKenzie, both of whom are part of a long-standing figural painting tradition in American art. Eventually, Jahn also worked with McKenzie as a teaching assistant at the National Academy School of Fine Arts, introducing him to the challenges of being an art instructor while simultaneously continuing to paint.
The next step in Jahn’s study and exploration of painting came with a stint in France at the SCAD-LaCoste School of Art residential program in LaCoste, Provençe. Like generations of artists before him, Jahn’s experience abroad raised many questions about his career decisions and how he wanted to define his future as an artist. The intense studio time in France centered around a postmodern curriculum and immersed Jahn into a exhausting study of non-representational painting. “In art school I invested a large amount of time extensively exploring abstraction.The experience has been invaluable to me; every type of painting that I have studied has fused into my aesthetic.”
Back in the US, Jahn not only began working at the Swain Galleries in Plainfield, New Jersey where he had his first one-man show, but he also went back to duCret School of Art to finish his degree. After graduation, he began teaching at duCret; eighteen months later, he petitioned the school to start a new program called Academy duCret which would focus on teaching representational art to a small group of students. It was during this time that Jahn met Tim Reynolds, a painting student at duCret and a very successful businessman who would later form a global art education project.
In 2008, Jahn furthered expanded his painting and drawing skills at The Waichulis Studio, where he completed a three-year apprenticeship working with Anthony Waichulis Founded in 1998, this nationally respected atelier is dedicated to teaching representational art utilizing a step-by-step methodology that Waichulis developed. As Jahn notes, “The time I spent working and learning from Anthony Waichulis has had a profound and lasting effect on my artistic endeavors.”
Midway through this apprenticeship, Jahn introduced his former student, Tim Reynolds, to Waichulis, which ultimately led to the development of an innovative concept for providing art education internationally. The goal is to provide step-by-step training for artists throughout the world with the hope of facilitating the growth of international creative connections. Reynolds proposed using the word ‘Ani’ which is a variation on the Swahili word ‘Andjani’, meaning the “road” or the “path ahead”. In 2010, the first of these schools opened when The Waichulis Studio became the Ani Art Academies Waichulis. Jahn was the first graduate in 2011, and would immediately become the first instructor at an international Ani Art Academies funded by the Tim Reynolds Foundation.
Reynolds built the first new school on the Caribbean island of Anguilla. Now known as the Ani Art Academies Anguilla, Jahn began educating the first group of local students in drawing and painting in 2012. In return, Jahn notes, “Every chapter of my life has taken my art work into new and interesting directions. The inspiration for my art comes from my life experiences and living in Anguilla with its beautiful light and color will to have a profound effect on my work. These new experiences will surely add to the narrative of my future works.”
Janet Whitmore, Ph.D.