February 23, 2017
Richmond Center for Visual Arts
room 2008 at 5:30 p.m.
John M. “Jack” Carney earned his BFA and MFA in Graphic Design from the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign. He also studied photography at Illinois with Art Sinsabaugh who had a lasting impact on his love for the medium. In 1966 John joined the faculty at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo teaching Graphic and Foundation Design. He co-developed WMU’s graphic design degree program, and co-created the Design Center at Western. In the late 60s he created the first photography course in the Department of Art. Demand for additional class levels of photography quickly increased resulting in the establishment of the photography area BFA and MFA degrees in 1972.
John took a two year leave of absence in 1970 to become the Design Manager for the Brown Company which was then part of the Gulf and Western Corporation. This position was primarily package design for a host of regional and national corporations, including Pillsbury for which he completed the re-design of their food products packaging. During this time, John grew to realize that he missed the intellectual environment of the University and fellow artists, and as a designer in industry he did not have the time nor energy to make art. Also, he became aware that photograph intrigued him more as a solution to a design problem than typography. Design was not art for John and only art could satisfy his creative need. John returned to Western Michigan University, gave up graphic design, and continued as Head of the Photography Program for the remainder of his tenure in education. During this time, he chaired the Department of Art for one academic year and a portion of another. John retired from the University as Professor Emeritus of Art in 2000 to pursue the practice of art full time.
Carney has received many prestigious awards including a Michigan Council for the Arts Creative Artist Grant, six Ford Foundation/WMU Faculty Enrichment Grants, four WMU Faculty Research and Creativity Activity Fund awards, and four Sabbatical Leave grants.
His photographs have been exhibited throughout the country and his work is held in numerous private, corporate and institutional collections.