Amazon Aid Foundation Artists for The Amazon program is happy to welcome Tom Ward, a classically trained fine artist who lives in Denver, CO. whose murals grace walls on locations nationwide. His paintings often magnify small and overlooked things, including insects that pollinate our world. In this way, he draws peoples’ attention to things that might otherwise be overlooked.
“People use pesticides to get rid of insects so they may have a pretty garden but not a healthy garden.” He continues, “Bugs are mostly out of sight and out of mind for people. I love doing them huge because that is what their impact is on our world. People take them for granted because they are so tiny.”
Throughout his life, Ward has been inspired by nature, “As a child, catching lizards, watching insects and exploring tide pools were my favorite activities. When I was young I had the ability to focus on objects at close range without a magnifying glass. The far off, natural world was opened to me by National Geographic and TV shows.”
He started painting murals in his parents’ house as well as his father’s office. “So murals have always been part of my artistic vocabulary. Professionally, Ward started off as a newspaper artist and illustrator, ”During most of the period of the 90s I was working almost exclusively digital. After 2000, when print started going downhill, I realized my days as an illustrator were numbered. This is when I began to reinvent myself as a fine artist and muralist.
Although Tom has not traveled to the Amazon, he sees that everything in the world is connected to it, “I have been to Mexico more times than I can count, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, as well as several countries in Europe. Seeking out wild places at these destinations are always a priority. When I look at places like Australia, Indonesia, the Pacific Coast and the Amazon, I see them as more connected than different. Given the events of the past year the interconnection seems obvious.”
From this idea of connection, came his idea for a collaboration called ‘Working Separate Together” Tom says, “Everything all around the world is connected as a web. “Working Separate Together” became more interesting when I brought in artists from around other parts of the world.”
In early 2020 Ward was working on some ideas for an upcoming solo show for the city of Thornton CO. The show kept getting pushed back because of Covid. “I painted a cloud of pieces on these narrow 18 inch wide doors. (I paint on old doors a lot),” he recalls. “Talking to the curator, I was thinking of doing a series and linking them together to make a larger piece. Then I thought, “what if it was really big? Like 50 feet?” Thinking of all that work got me thinking about getting help. Bam, collaboration!”
For the installation, he uses bi-fold doors which are repurposed and can be found on Craigslist anywhere in the country. The doors have art on both sides and are eclectic.
Tom loves the idea of having the piece be 100 yards long — sort of like a really long tapestry. He encourages artists to use different techniques including those that are sculptural. When asked how he can have artists painting doors around the world, he said that out-of-town artists paint on canvases then roll it up and ship them to him. He then mounts them onto the doors. Currently, he has twelve doors and he is looking to expand. Because the art is twofold, the viewer has one experience as they walk along one side of the installation and then a different experience when they walk along the other side.
“Early on with the concept of ‘Working Separate Together,’ I thought I didn’t want to try and control the process and art-direct people. It had to be eclectic with all these other artists. So my hope has been the project would evolve and grow in unanticipated directions. It could become bigger, better, different than I could have anticipated from the start.” Tom is hoping that this can become a vehicle to more gallery shows, as well as, murals in other parts of the world.
Tom feels that ‘Working Separate Together” could have a version for Amazon. Some ideas could be a series of images of the future/past, destruction/healing, biodiversity/human dependence, “We could even do a series of Amazon bugs: one side could be the bug and the other would be the flowers that depend on the bugs.” The possibilities are endless.
For now, please check out his website: