Derek Owens

Rabbits Must Eat (from “The Four Corners” series)
56″x88″; vintage papers, fabric, burlap, netting, string, photos, text,
grommets, powdered dye, acrylic, oil, on unstretched tablecloth; 2019

Derek Owens
Ronkonkoma, New York, USA


My art is preoccupied with the tropes of time, memory, and myth. Sampling, remixing, and mashing are recurring methods, in both the visual work and the writing—processes that seem, for me anyway, to sometimes effect a reframing of temporality. Much of it touches on the implications of living in the anthropocene—a sustained meditation on the bittersweet weirdness of creating while living and dying here in our sixth extinction. Collage plays an important role, my interest in recombinatory poetics speaking to a general desire to salvage, preserve, archive, and redesign. A lot of the work is about being haunted, while also being a haunt: imagining and channeling “voices” from past/present/future while acknowledging the ephemeral nature of one’s own brief existence. In my attempts to deal with this solastalgia, the metaphor of the portal—as a means of diving into, or escape, or seeking to return—hovers in the background.


I’m an artist, writer, and teacher living on Long Island, New York. I’ve been teaching full-time since the early 1990s, first in Harvard’s Expository Writing Program, then for the past 25 years at St. John’s University in New York. My collage work has been exhibited most recently in shows in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Montreal. I have a doctorate specializing in composition pedagogy and an MFA in creative practice. A portfolio of my work (collage, painting, video, artist’s books), as well as information on my scholarly publications, conference presentations,poetry, fiction, lyric essay, curating, and teaching philosophy, can be found at


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It’s Toasted (from “Drunkwort and Phosphorous” series)
11.5″x11.5″; vintage cigarette wrappers and matchbooks on black paper; 2019
A Cultural History of Terra Australis (from “A History of Their World, vol. 4”)
19″x78″; silver reflective paint, black unreflective paint, and collage on pape; 2019
Boy Killing Eagle (from “A History of Their World, vol. 5”)
12″x9″; vintage papers, wallpaper, thread, yarn; 2019
Oh My God Did You Say Pooh Bear You Did You So Said Pooh Bear
15.5″x12″; papers, fabrics, photo; 2019