Jon Coffelt

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Jon Coffelt
File:Jon Coffelt at Schedler Minchin in 2006.jpg
Born (1963-05-16) May 16, 1963 (age 55)
Dunlap, Tennessee
Nationality American
Education Middle Tennessee State University (1981–1984); Southern Institute (1984- 1986); University of Alabama at Birmingham (1985–1986); Auburn University (1986)
Known for Painting, Sculpture, Installation art, Curator

Johnny Lee Coffelt born (May 16, 1963) is an American artist who lives and works in Manhattan in the Financial District of New York City. Coffelt paints, sculpts, sews, makes book arts, and curates art exhibitions.


Coffelt was born to Dorcas Ann (née Shadrick) and John Henry Coffelt and has two sisters, Joanna and Janie. Coffelt was raised in the East Tennessee mountains in the town of Palmer and the community of Griffith Creek near Whitwell, Tennessee. Coffelt has been painting since he was eight years old when his grandfather, John Ervin Coffelt taught him how to paint.[1] Coffelt still considers himself a colorist.[2]


Coffelt's career began in the fashion industry designing clothing as well as fabric for Willi Smith in the 1980s.[3] Once he decided to devote his full energies to art he was commissioned by Jim Mitchell to paint over 100 works for the Parisian Department Store chain.[4] In 1987, He met Shawn Boley who is his long-term partner. In 1989 Coffelt received "Outstanding Ten Year Alumnus Award" from Southern Institute. Coffelt was the inaugural artist at Space One Eleven founded by Anne Arrasmith and Peter Prinz, when it opened in 1989 in Birmingham, Alabama.[5]

In 1991 Coffelt was commissioned by Absolut Vodka to kick off its "Absolut Statehood" campaign representing the state of Alabama; the result was shown in publications such as USA Today, Time,[6] Out and Science Digest. At 28 years old, Coffelt was the youngest artist ever commissioned by Absolut Vodka.[7]

From 1993 until 2001 Coffelt, with partner Shawn Boley and Janet Hughes, owned and operated Agnes (gallery), a gallery devoted to socially aware photography, short film/video and book arts.

From 1994 to 1996, Coffelt served as editor and publisher of Alabama Art Monthly. In 2002 Coffelt closed the gallery in order to move to New York and give his own art undivided attention. Over the last several years his work has been shown across the United States and in several overseas exhibits.


  • In 2000, Michael Pittari, editor of Art Papers curated "Hypnotic Post: Atlanta Abstraction Now" at Swan Coach House Gallery,[8] Coffelt was selected along with twelve other artists for "Post Hypnotic-Hypnotic Post" millennium celebration of the arts.
  • In 2000, Coffelt's work was chosen for "House and Garden: Twists on Domesticity," at Space One Eleven, Birmingham, AL through a grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Arts. The exhibition included the work of Karen Rich Beall also included a catalog with a foreword on Coffelt by David Moos. In this exhibition, Coffelt hand-sewed more than 250 miniature garments that were exhibited here using original fabrics from clothing surrendered by individuals across the country to produce exact replicas keeping the integrity of these pieces intact with the fabrics, shapes and seams of the garments. Coffelt calls these memory sculptures because most of the pieces came from a loved one.[9]
  • In 2002, Coffelt's work was selected to be part of "The Longest Winter" curated by Gean Moreno for Florida Atlantic University. This exhibition asks viewers to rethink notions of the domestic as the cookie-cut "normal" place it is often depicted to be. Moreno explains, "The artists in 'The Longest Winter' demonstrate that the domestic is the native ground of weird imaginations, of deranging methods and private methodologies."[10]
  • In 2007, Clayton Colvin curated "Art and Place II: Material at Hand" for Center for the Living Arts/Space 301 featuring the work of Coffelt and nine other artists. This exhibition deals with the influence that a sense of place can have on the artist. The focus here lies in the significance of medium in artists' work "and how their chosen media may also function as the content or the subject.[11]
  • For January/February 2009, "Fiberarts Magazine" featured Coffelt's "Miniature Clothing Project" [12] in its Creative Process section. Coffelt uses cherished items of clothing to create miniature replica garments as tiny symbols of people and events, folded in time.

Curatorial work

Notes and references

  1. Coffelt's background
  2. USA Today, Jon Coffelt. January 17, 1992 p. 6 worldwide release
  3. 1985-1986
  4. Commissioned paintings for Parisian Department Stores
  5. James R. Nelson, "Space One Eleven is Important Addition to Arts Scene," Birmingham News, Birmingham, AL, November 29, 1987: pg. 6F
  6. Time, ad February 14, 1994
  7. Ruth Beumont Reuse, “Absolut Coffelt,” Birmingham Magazine, February 1992. page 19
  8. "Hypnotic Post: Atlanta Abstraction Now" at Swan Coach House Gallery, Atlanta, Georgia.
  9. Nancy Raabe, "Tiny Treasures," Birmingham News, Birmingham, AL, September 10, 2000: pg. 1F & 8F
  10. "The Longest Winter," curated by Gene Moreno Florida Atlantic University, Miami, FL
  11. "Art and Place II: Material at Hand" for Center for the Living Arts/Space 301, Mobile, Alabama
  12. "Miniature Clothing Project"
  13. Birmingham News, "Contour exhibit casts spotlight on wonderful world of lines", Sunday, June 18, 2006


  • Absolut Statehood: 51 Painters by Glenn O'Brien, Foreword by Michel Roux, Photography by Antonio Alia Guccione, 116 pgs. Farrar Straus and Giroux, 1993 Hardcover ISBN 0-89381-563-2
  • The Art Assassin, Volume 1 by qi peng, 713 pgs. Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York Standard Copyright License, 2009 Hardcover Perfect Binding
  • UpSouth by bell hooks, Emma Amos and Antoinette Spanos Nordan, University Press, University of Alabama, Birmingham, 1999, pp 70–73

External links