The son of working class parents, Jon Farrell had the unique experience of growing up in a museum and playing as a child at Skylands and Ringwood manors. Not one to overlook an opportunity, he took that dichotomy and turned an ability to work with his hands into a talent for creating art.
Today Farrell, a ceramic sculptor, is the facilities manager and studio technician for the LH Project in Joseph, OR. The LH Project is a residency for ceramic artists where Farrell, too, is able to focus on and develop his art.
Following his graduation from County College of Morris (CCM), he attended the prestigious Tyler School of Art at Temple University where he earned his BFA. It was at CCM, however, where he met the professors who encouraged him to pursue a career as an artist, he says. His experience at a wilderness school in South Jersey similarly taught him to trust his instincts.
Prior to studying art at CCM, he worked as a carpenter, in warehouses and delivered and put together furniture.
“I didn’t want to make moving furniture my life,” he says. “That is not my purpose.”
His purpose today is creating artistic pieces, many of which focus on the human form, some of which are quite abstract, but each of which is finely detailed and precise in nature.
He credits his early childhood experiences with providing him with an appreciation for “objects that speak to people.” His mother was the caretaker for the Grover Cleveland Birthplace in Caldwell and the family lived on the second floor. While his father worked as a maintenance man at the Skylands and Ringwood estates, he also spent significant time exploring the expansive fountains, sculptures and grand-scale Victorian architecture at those locations.
“Growing up in a museum and wandering through Skylands and Ringwood, there was a level of quality that was placed in front of me,” says Farrell. “When I make something it has to have a quality that makes it significant.”
In many ways, he says, it was as if all paths were leading him to art. “It’s like all my experiences culminated into a perfect storm that allowed me to go after my aspiration to create objects that compel viewers to take a moment and reflect.”
At CCM, he says, he also mastered the foundational tools that are the structure of good art.
“The methods of crafting my work and its current trajectory are both highly informed by what I learned at CCM,” he says. “I came away from CCM not only with knowledge, but physical tools I made there that I continue to use in my work.”