John Cheney Wood, professor emeritus of photography in the School of Art & Design at Alfred University, passed away on Friday, July 20, 2012 in Ithaca, NY. He had celebrated his 90th birthday the week before his death. He spent his last weeks enjoying his family, the birds, moonlight and fireflies, music and art in his beautiful studio.
Wood was born on July 10, 1922 in Turlock, CA to the late Norman Shattuck Wood and Louise Cheney Wood. He was raised in Concord, MA, with part of his childhood spent in North Carolina and Western New York. He served as a pilot in the Army Air Corps from 1943-45. He earned a degree in Visual Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1954.
Wood taught at the School of Art and Design at Alfred University from 1954 to 1987, where he was instrumental in establishing the photography, printmaking and foundations programs.
“John Wood’s influence can be see throughout our curriculum and had immense impact on the trajectory of the study and practice of photography since the 1960’s,” said Leslie Bellavance, dean of the School of Art & Design. “He is well-loved by former students and admired by friends and colleagues.”
Wood was also a founding faculty of the Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester, NY. In 2009, Wood had a major retrospective of his photographs, drawings, collages and whirligigs in Rochester, with exhibits at the Memorial Art Gallery, Eastman House, and Visual Studies Workshop. This exhibition was also shown in New York at Grey Art Gallery and the International Center for Photography. A monograph of his work: John Wood On the Edge of Clear Meaning, edited by Nathan Lyons (AU alumnus, class of 1957) was published by Steidl in 2009.
Wood is represented by the Bruce Silverstein Gallery, in NYC.
In 1993, he and his wife Laurie Snyder moved to Baltimore, MD so that Laurie could teach photography at the Maryland Institute College of Art. They continued to spend summers in their beloved home and studio in Ithaca, NY.
He is survived by his wife, Laurie Sieverts Snyder; his children, Michael Cheney Wood (Marjory Johnson), of Aurora, MN; Carol Watson Wood (Ken Maracek) of Alfred, NY; his grandchildren, Galen Wood (Jessica Moline) and Ranier Wood (Willie James Wood), Casey Maracek and Avery Maracek; his stepsons, Noah Snyder (Lydia Bergen) of Boston, MA and Ben Snyder (Rachel Projansky) of Seattle, WA; nieces, a nephew and several great grand children. His younger brother, James Albert Wood (Ethel Borden) lives in Carmel Valley, CA. His former wife, Suzanne Watson Wood lives in Alfred, NY. He was predeceased by his older brother and sister-in-law, Norman Shattuck Wood II (Martha Sue Inman).
Gifts in his honor may be made to the John C. Wood, Emeritus Professor, Endowed Scholarship, Alfred University, Saxon Drive, Alfred, NY, 14802.
His former wife, Suzanne Watson Wood, is a 1964 alumna of Alfred University, and his daughter, Carol Watson Wood, earned graduate degrees from Alfred University.