Camden Close-Up: John Ros

Exhibited in 'Citizen' at Swiss Cottage Gallery 24 April - 15 July 2018 with Tash Kahn

Love Camden loves its local talent. We aim to celebrate everything cultural in the borough, from Hampstead to Kilburn, from the British Library to that little café around the corner - we are always out to show what Camden has to offer. As part of this we launched our Camden Close-Up series: interviews with artists, thinkers, entrepreneurs and downright interesting figures that live, work or are inspired by the borough.

This month we spoke to John Ros, who recently exhibited in 'Citizen' at Swiss Cottage Gallery, and is interested in non-commercial, non-proprietary, open source, community-organized, sustainable practices that promote vitality and viability through awareness and action.


  1. What would you would do if you weren’t doing this? What would your parallel life look like?

    Probably an architect or a musician. I love working with space and light. to build shelters and public spaces would put many of my philosophies into practice.

    I often say that the rhythm in my work comes from the fact that I wasn't allowed to become a musician. I am a first-generation American, both of my parents musicians. Because they knew how hard it was to be a musician (working 2-4 jobs throughout my childhood) they wanted a better life for us. So I became an artist.


  2. What do you think is most important: luck, chance, opportunity or hard-graft?

    Life is a constant play between all of these. You can work hard your whole life and never get a break. You can be lucky without lifting a finger. My life has been a healthy combination of risk-taking, working hard and luck. Opportunities come and go. Luck happens. Most important, you have to know how and when to act... and put yourself in a good place to take a risk or two. Nothing is a guarantee. Nothing is inevitable.


  3. What has been your most career defining moment to date and why?

    Always the most recent exhibit. An art practice is so much about continuance. Persistence. Opportunities do not always present themselves and we can find ourselves in a rut. Staying focused and dedicated is often what success looks like. Besides, I am always on to something else. A new project. New research. So what is most current in my practice is often what excites me most and brings me to new places.


  4. What are you most proud of and what are you least proud of……and why?

    Most proud of: my fine art ventures: pocket and galleryELL/studioELL. Though they where/are so much work, there is also so much reward because as founder/director, its all on me.

    Least proud of: I bite my nails. I either look extremely hungry or extremely anxious. Both of which are often true and both of which are distracting.


  5. Tell us a secret

    I hate the beach. I would much prefer 2 feet of snow on a cold, dark mountain top.


Artist bio

John Ros is an artist, curator, professor, and activist. He currently lives and works in New York City and Harrisonburg, Virginia, US. He obtained an MFA from Brooklyn College, City University of New York, in 2013 and a BFA from the State University of New York at Binghamton in 2000.

Ros is an Assistant Professor of Art at James Madison University’s School of Art, Design, and Art History, where he also serves as the Director and Chief Curator of the Duke Hall Gallery of Fine Art. He has taught at the City Literary Institute (London, UK), Brooklyn College (New York, NY, US), SUNY Binghamton (Binghamton, NY, US) and the National Academy of Art (New York, NY, US), and has lectured as a visiting artist at NYU: Steinhardt, London Metropolitan University, George Mason University, North Florida Community College and Jefferson Technical and Community College among others. In 2015 Ros founded studioELL, an alternative, transient and hybrid space for higher education in the studio arts, where he is currently the Director and teaches a variety of courses.

During the past 20 years, Ros has worked on more than 65 exhibitions with over 200 artists. He founded two alternative gallery ventures, pocket, (2002-2005, Binghamton, NY, US) and galleryELL, a transient, hybrid gallery, (2008-2016, New York, NY, US), and has been involved in many artist and non-profit initiatives such as; Art Director of Perspectives International (2005-2008, New York, NY, US), Board Member of Spool MFG. (2004-2005, Johnson City, NY, US), and Museum Educator at the Hillwood Art Museum (2000, Brookville, NY, US).

Visit John Ros' website here



To learn more about 'Citizen' exhibition click here!

For Tash Khan's Camden Close-Up click here!