John Hillis Sanders

John Hillis Sanders’ career as an artist and educator spans over five decades. His interest in the post-modern movement and its critical influence on contemporary art is exemplified in his extensive body of sculptural work in light and space. He draws inspiration from artists of the 20th century such as Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Beuys, and Robert Irwin. As with these revered masters, the conceptual process drives John’s passion for making art, from the idea through the creation.

After graduate school at Cal State Long Beach, Sanders began his career as a ceramic artist. Marked by a sense of experimentation and chance, his approach to the clay work was sculptural in nature, opposed to utilitarian. Within a decade, his focus shifted to large scale, site specific, and installation works. The mediums for these original works – whether clay, brick, wood, or metal – were dictated by concept, location and necessity. Primary to his practice is the defining of a given space, with light and surface critical to his process.

Concurrently, Sanders has enjoyed a long academic career, teaching both sculpture and ceramics at several major universities in Southern California, most notably California State University, Los Angeles and University of California, Irvine – along with numerous guest lectures and seminars.

Sanders currently works and lives in Long Beach and also in Santa Barbara with his wife Pma Tregenza.


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Contact Information

John Hillis Sanders
(562) 618-1253

Artist Links


Artist Work

Super Chief (1999)
A depiction of the legendary 1937 Santa Fe Super Chief, the most luxurious train of the streamlined era, the convincing perspective of this completely flat piece gave the illusion of the train rounding a corner. Galvanized steel on plywood, paint, wood. 10 x 20 feet.

49 (2008)
Forty-nine 5 foot galvanized stars were placed in a grid pattern on a 100’ x 100’ field of grass that faced north. The pieces continually change ~ the surfaces go from dull gray to bright and reflective as the natural light changes from sunrise to sunset.

3 (2006)
The piece, three 5 foot stars, was painted on site with fluorescent paint in a black gallery which was lit with an ultra-violet light system. A video and a photo documentation of the process of the painting of the work were shown in a separate space.