the Artist: a brief summary
earned his BFA and MFA in Graphic Design from the University
at Urbana/Champaign. He also studied photography at Illinois
with Art Sinsabaugh who had a lasting impact on his love for
the medium. In 1966 John joined the faculty at Western Michigan
University in Kalamazoo teaching Graphic and Foundation Design.
He co-developed WMU’s graphic design degree program, and
co-created the Design Center at Western. In the late 60s he created
the first photography course in the Department of Art. Demand
for additional class levels of photography quickly increased
resulting in the establishment of the photography area BFA and
MFA degrees in 1972.
John took a 2-year leave of absence in 1970 to become the Design
Manager for the Brown Company which was then part of the Gulf
and Western Corporation. This position was primarily package
design for a host of regional and national corporations, including
Pillsbury for which he completed the re-design of their food
products packaging. During this time, John grew to realize that
he missed the intellectual environment of the University and
fellow artists, and as a designer in industry he did not have
the time nor energy to make art. Also, he became aware that the
photograph intrigued him more as a solution to a design problem
than typography. Design was not art for John and only art could
satisfy his creative need.
John returned to Western Michigan University, gave up graphic
design, and continued as Head of the Photography Program for
the remainder of his tenure in education. During this time he
chaired the Department of Art for one academic year and a portion
of another. John retired from the university as Professor Emeritus
of Art in 2000 to pursue the practice of art full time.
Carney has received many prestigious awards including a Michigan
Council for the Arts Creative Artist Grant, six Ford Foundation/WMU
Faculty Enrichment Grants, four WMU Faculty Research and Creativity
Activity Fund awards, and four Sabbatical Leave grants.
His photographs have been exhibited throughout the country and
his work is held in numerous private, corporate and institutional