WEEK 4- ARTIST CONVERSATION- Samuel Jernigan

Artist: Samuel Jernigan
Exhibition: Weight of Whimsy and Ideals
Media: Ceramics
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Gatov Gallery West
Website: Samuel Jernigan
Instagram: SamuelJenri

Samuel Jernigan, a fall 2015 graduate, is a ceramics artist who’s Weight of Whimsy and Ideals exhibit explores alienation, belonging, absurdities, and loneliness. He’s being doing ceramics since 2000 until about 2006, he picked it up again 7 years later when he went back to school. When asked about how long he’s been “making art”, he stated that he considered himself to only be making it for the past 3 years. He enjoys starting his day out with a “fucking latte” and ending it with a beer; he also enjoys reading comics in between those two activities.

This gallery was mainly focused on his ceramic pieces that range from body parts like arms and legs, busts, and other pieces that are reminiscent of one’s child; he also uses paint and wood. It seemed like he really tried to limit his use of color, like his piece which included a bust with rainbow colored toddler rings topping it. A lot of his work looked really animated and it really reminisced on our childhood days because of the soft, almost simple features of the pieces. He had fishes, and other objects, that looked like they belonged in an animated movie. The texture of these objects was smooth and clean, they were precise and easy to spot. It contained a lot of round shapes and the colors that were used just popped. His art could cater to a younger audience but would also intrigue an older one because of the deeper meaning.

His art is about, as said before, exploring alienation and belonging. His exhibit explores a contraction between actively participating in societies ideals as a way to feel less alone, less alienated, to feel like they belong by agreeing to what is deemed acceptable by everyone. Jernigan utilizes objects that are reflective of ones childhood to not only remind observers of their naive days as a child but to fully dive into that memory to escape and embrace the nostalgia that accompanies it; he also wants the observer to be influenced into a space of friendliness and be pushed to participate in a community in which old ideals can be broken down. Jernigan enjoys comics, and when asked if he receives inspiration from them, he answered that he felt that comics deal with absurdity, they identify an assumption and break it; he said that they don’t inspire him in a visual language but as an idealogical language. He planted pegs around the room so that the observer could put together different identities with different busts to create a variety of possible images; he also carefully picks which pieces will have color for this same purpose, to be able to break an identity down.

I think that this exhibit is nice to look at initially, but when you further analyze the art, their purpose, and the thought process behind the artist while developing these pieces, the exhibit is very complex and abstract. The work as a whole is designed as simply animated pieces and pegs but overall, the idea of interchangeability and visiting our memories of naivety really make an individual think. I feel like the artist’s ideas resonate with mine by pointing out with the fact that it is contradicting that people promote this general feeling in order to feel anything but alienated. I feel like, from my own life experience, I was stuck in this cycle of participating in society’s ideal in order to feel like I belonged more; my original major decision was based on the idea of what others thought would be best for me, on what was expected from me since I was younger. I was expected to be a STEM major because I was good at math and science ever since I was in elementary school, because I was a hispanic female it would be great to have someone like me enter the field. His exhibit was interesting and my favorite so far, in terms of meaning. 

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