Robert Mccann

Associate Professor, Foundations Coordinator

317 Kresge Art Center
East Lansing, MI 48824



Robert McCann was born and raised in southwest Missouri. He earned a BFA in studio art at Missouri State University in 1996 and a Master of Fine Art degree in painting from Indiana University at Bloomington in 2001. Later that year he was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to paint in Berlin, Germany. Returning to the US in Fall 2002, he taught at Missouri State University in Springfield and later at Washington University in St. Louis. Recent venues of exhibition include the Dayton Visual Art Center, Manifest Gallery in Cincinnati, 621 Gallery in Tallahassee, Artbox Gallery in Indianapolis, and the Ormond Memorial Art Museum in Ormond Beach, Florida. In Spring 2011 his work may be seen in a solo exhibition at the Soo Visual Art Center in Minneapolis.


My paintings have focused on imagery that can be read as at once allegorical and absurd. I’m attracted to the number of simultaneous intentions and cross-purposes that can be acted out in a single painting. The painting can become more real and more abstract, more personal and universal, more constructive and deconstructive. Often the elaborately staged narratives of my paintings are an accumulation of questions, visual analogies that are added up on canvas.

The use of long running TV shows, cartoon characters, and movie versions of folkloric monsters give the paintings a comic-tragic back story and functions as implicit critique of our fragmenting language in the information age. So while each of my paintings is about what happens between four corners (the cast of “Cops” invades the set of “Fear Factor”) they also deal with issues of personal mythology and the awkwardness of making a meaningful, singular image in a fast food culture.

Whereas photographic sourcing has become common shorthand for painters to reference the mediated experience, I’m interested in heightening that image-consciousness in subject and form. I work from life, drawings, photo collages, and imagination, mindful of a sort of image soup that links the Renaissance to the Postmodern to a billboard or a comic book. Our memory of the photo is shorthand for something measurable or taken for granted. I’m painting in the longhand, where the self conscious construction might confound that tendency to find the subject on the surface.

I leave myself plenty of room to paint.