12-19-22 In Memory of John Sims ’90
Dear Antioch Community:
We mourn the loss of John Sims, ’90, who died suddenly near his home in Sarasota, Florida. The news shocked everyone at Antioch and in the art world.
As an Antioch student, working closely with math faculty, such as Bill Whitesell, John Sims began studying math and integrated that with his art practice. After graduating, he created and organized the Cross-Cultural Field Program and African-American Culture Week, which later became a long-running Blues and Gospel Fest. He taught at the Ringling College of Art and Design, where he featured the integration of math and art and presented related exhibits and lectures around the United States, Hungary, Slovenia, Israel, and Argentina.
For 20 years, he worked at the cutting edge of mathematical art leading large-scale activism pushing back on Confederate iconography. His long-running multimedia project Reclamation Proclamation focused on installations featuring Confederate flag imagery. His work reflected our racial history and frequently became a lightning rod for people with different views. John took an idea from wild brainstorming to carefully reviewing every detail leading to completing the final work and accepting its reception among the public. He ran straight into conflict because he had the courage of his convictions.
He created thought and action-provoking works confronting racism, police violence, the Confederate flag, and the COVID-19 global health pandemic. Until his death, Michael Casselli and John were creating an exhibition that John would curate on campus this fall. This is an extreme loss for Antiochians who knew him, and his work impacted all.
John leveraged mathematics, design, performance, film, music, politics, symbols of white supremacy, and poetic/political text to take risks and push individuals and groups into new ways of acting in the world.
Over the years, The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, The Guardian, The Root, Al Jazeera, Guernica, Art in America, FiberArts, Science News, NBC News, The Huffington Post, The Rumpus, and Nature, to name just a few, featured Sims’ work.
We are humbled and gratified to have been a part of his story and experienced his great and powerful force. John’s time at Antioch and the many ways he remained engaged with the College beyond graduation were opportunities for our continual, essential work and crucial community conversations.
We miss John Sims’ unique and complex presence. His absence leaves a space that cannot be filled. He passed his work to those with the presence to carry it forward.
For more information, see John Sims ‘90, the Walter D. Anderson Award recipient, at https://youtu.be/
Pronouns: she/her or inclusive they/them
South Hall, 4th Floor