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John Early

John Early is a visual artist working across the fields of socially engaged art, installation, and drawing. His recent work focuses on spatial equity in St. Louis’ public parks and how issues of race, class, and gender shape the recreational landscape of the city. For the past three years, he has collaborated with sports studies scholar Noah Cohan on the interdisciplinary activist project “Whereas Hoops,” which examines the longstanding absence of basketball courts in St. Louis’ Forest Park and advocates for the construction of courts in the park. An artists’ book accompanying the project was recently acquired by several collections including the Thomas J. Watson Library at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Library & Research Center at the Missouri Historical Society. Early contributed an essay to the edited volume, “The Material World of Modern Segregation: St. Louis in the Long Era of Ferguson,” and was interviewed for a chapter in the newly published book, “Athletic Activism: Global Perspectives on Social Transformation.” In 2023, the Regional Arts Commission awarded him a grant for “Nothing but Net,” a civic project aimed at restoring and beautifying dozens of public outdoor basketball courts in St. Louis City and ensuring their long-term maintenance for the communities they serve. Early is a senior lecturer in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts and a faculty affiliate at WashU’s Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity & Equity (CRE2).

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Work by John Early