Sculptor John Cino Evokes the Spirit through Nature 

When Stepping into John Cino’s exhibit at the Memorial Gallery at Farmingdale State College, there can be no doubt that one is exiting everyday experience and entering an environment altered by art, ideas, and a commitment to beauty.  A sculptor who has worked for decades exploring and coaxing the artistic possibilities primarily in wood, Cino’s work fills the gallery just about to bursting.  The Sacred or Profane, the densely installed one-man exhibition gives a sweeping view of the artist’s oeuvre.  It also requires the visitor to weave through towering, totemic wooden sculptures that almost touch your shoulders.  It’s an up close, engaging and affecting experience.

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Detail of John Cino’s carved wood sculptures

Cino’s biomorphic, monumental works in wood feature rippling edges, fluid lines, and unadorned surfaces that respect and highlight nature’s textures and tones.  His work displays both mastery of and sympathetic connection to his material.  Under his hands, the wood responds and allows itself to be transformed into shapes that recall feathers, leaves, breaking waves, flickering flames or tendrils of evanescent smoke.

The exhibition, on view through February 13, curated by Beth Giacummo offers a rare, immersive experience with Cino’s work.  The Memorial Gallery seems transformed into a place where both time and timelessness exist.  Cino states, “While my sculpture freezes motion, it invites the viewer to move and be moved.”

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John Cino’s 2014 sculpture, Song Wave

The exhibition is titled “Sacred or Profane,” responding to the work of Mircea Eliade a renowned author of treatises on religions and faith.  Key to Eliade’s thinking is that the sacred space and the everyday world are, by definition, separate.  Eliade cited Moses’ need to take off his shoes when he encountered God in the form of the burning bush, along with the countless cross cultural echoes of that gesture played out in houses of worship around the world.  Cino seems to evoke both realms coexisting in his artworks, stating “It is up to the viewer to decide which side represents the sacred and which represents the profane.”  Dichotomies are a key theme for the artist.  Not just sacred and profane, but yin and yang, male and female, solid and fluid, concept and substance, art and nature all come into play.

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John Cino, Twining, 2009, Oak, 39 in x 10 in x 4 in

And all can be sensed standing among Cino’s work.  The gallery feels as if it’s been temporary transformed into an underwater kelp forest, a contemporary Stonehenge, a space between the synapses in the brain, or a distant corner of the universe, all places where reality exists, but as incomprehensible, mysterious places that may be best approached through art.  In “Sacred or Profane,” Cino provides, in his masterfully crafted, aesthetically accomplished, spiritually driven and deeply felt works of art, a key to those imagined and then artfully created spaces.

John Cino, The Sacred or Profane, Memorial Gallery, Hale Hall, Farmingdale State College’s Memorial Gallery, free and open to the public weekdays, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

All photos courtesy John Cino. For more information, go to his website. 

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John Cino, The Sacred or Profane

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Detail of John Cino’s carved wood sculptures

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John Cino’s 2014 sculpture, Song Wave

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John Cino, Twining, 2009, Oak, 39 in x 10 in x 4 in

 

About Mary Gregory (40 Articles)
Mary Gregory is an award-winning art critic and journalist whose work with museums, galleries, and auction houses led her to writing about art for publications like Newsday, Long Island Pulse, Afterimage, Art Week, Our Town, and the Chelsea News. A member of the International Association of Art Critics, she has degrees in both English and art history, and her fiction has been anthologized by the Georgia Museum of Art. ------------------Adel Gorgy's photojournalist work, which focuses specifically on art news and exhibitions, has been widely published in New York area magazines, newspapers and journals both online and in print. His fine art photography has been seen around the world in solo and group exhibitions in museums and galleries.