Artist: Samuel Jernigan
Exhibition: The Weight of Whimsy and Ideals
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Gatov Gallery West
Samuel Jernigan is currently a graduate student in California State University Long Beach. He majored in BFA and ceramics and continues to focus on his works as a graduate student. Jernigan grew up in Central California in the Bay area where he discovered his love for art. Other interesting facts about Jernigan is that he loves food especially fresh tomatoes. In his free time, playing his guitar helps him relax from the stress of his work. Jernigan chose to use ceramics in most of his works because of his background with that material. He used to work in a ceramic production company and from there decided to use ceramic as the main foundation of his pieces. Because Jernigan already knew how to handle and work with ceramics, and knew its basic vocabulary, he decided to focus on working with it. Jernigan’s work explores the idea of unfixing an identity with the influence of toys. His ideas explore specific identities, in this case toys, and unfixing it to where it’s something more sophisticated and flexible. He creates a work with meaning and changes it to go deeper.
This piece’s foundation is made from ceramic. The piece is of a women’s neck, shoulders and bust. The structure of the dress has some straight and diagonal lines indented to make the work seem more realistic. Where the head is supposed to be is replaced with these colorful, circular tube-like pipes that sit right on top of each other. The red circular shape is the longest and as it goes down these tube-like pipes appear to be smaller. The texture of this piece seems very smooth and soft. There are no jagged or abrupt lines anywhere on this work. There are a lot of colors such as red, purple, blue, green, yellow, peach, and a pink, coral type of color. The neck and the top of the dress’s colors are so well painted on that it makes the work look less flat.
This piece is about the unfix identity of a fixed meaning. So to elaborate on that, this piece’s unfixed identity is the upper part of a women. She is supposed to have a normal head and body, but what this piece shows is that you can unfix, or undo, that normalcy and give it a whole new meaning. Jernigan added the colorful looking circular toss toys as the head to show that these can be interchangeable, meaning one piece can have multiple meanings if you unfix it. In this case, the top colorful toys can be taken off and replaced with a variety of his works displayed in the room. This shows that some works may seem specific but he fixes its identity to recreate a new image.
This resonates for me because it showed me how art doesn’t have to be a flat surface. It also showed me how one thing can have more than one meaning just by changing one little factor. I really enjoyed Jernigan’s works because he goes so deep into his work and really makes you think. Before I would think that in order to be a good artist, you need to either learn to draw, design, sculpt, or come up with an interesting work. However from viewing his work, it showed me that you can have fun with whatever you are doing and change it up however you want. Nothing is permanent and you can always unfix a fixed identity to give it another meaning. In this case, I can change a part of my outfit, makeup, or routine to really express myself in different ways with different techniques.