A Sunday Afternoon With John Hughes

By Steven Rowe

A Sunday Afternoon With John Hughes


The piece is a self-portrait—not only in the sense that I’m in it, but also in the sense that it contains two other works that have inspired me. For that reason, the theme of my piece is inspiration.

In the fourth grade, my art teacher taught me about many famous artists and their works. One painting became particularly important to me: A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat. It was made up of millions of tiny little dots that when combined made a picture of people in a park—he called it pointillism. I had never seen something so incredible. Since that day it has been my favorite painting.

Later that same year, another monumental piece of art came into my life: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. It was the greatest movie I had ever seen. I wanted to be Ferris Bueller. The most significant scene in the film for me was the trip to the Art Institute of Chicago. Ferris and company look at many of the same paintings I was introduced to in fourth grade, including A Sunday Afternoon! This was a incredible moment in my life. My favorite painting was featured in my new favorite film. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it would be a tremendous influence on my decision to pursue filmmaking as a career.

That realization came later when I decided that I wanted to make films and I began researching the film’s director, John Hughes. He, too, was a fan of that painting and put it in the film simply for his own pleasure. He said, “I always thought this painting was sort of like making a movie. A pointillist style, which at very, very close to it, you don’t have any idea what you’ve made until you step back from it.”

John Hughes was inspired by Seurat’s painting and as a result put it in his film. I was inspired by both the painting and the film, so I put them in my work. Placing the painting, Cameron (who represents Hughes), and myself in the frame together represents generational layers of inspiration. What is next? Whom will my work inspire and what will they create? This reminds me of the way Hughes said that Seurat’s painting was like a film—all the little pieces work together to make the bigger picture. So many works have inspired me to become who I am and who I want to be as an artist.