Wk 4 – Artist Conversation – Samuel Jernigan

Artist: Samuel Jernigan
Exhibition: Weight of Whimsy and Ideals
Media: Ceramics/Clay, Wood, Paint
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Gatov Gallery West
Website: http://cargocollective.com/samueljernigan
Instagram: samueljenri

About the Artist

Samuel Jernigan is a recently graduated student from the BFA Ceramics program. He is from central California. Samuel is an extremely dedicated and passionate artist, as evidenced by the stories he told of his hard work, long hours, and living in his car. His artwork is inspired by memories of childhood, toys, and items found at thrift stores and flea markets. His pieces explore ideas of nostalgia, sentimentality, liveliness, belonging, and other themes of life. Now that he has graduated from CSULB, Samuel plans on further pursuing his education at another university.

Formal Analysis

Samuel’s ceramic pieces are very cleanly and beautifully crafted. Most of his pieces combine smooth and jagged edges and surfaces. His pieces incorporate very bright colors, especially primary colors, as well as neutral beige colors. The pieces range in size and shape. Some are very small in stature and width, and others are very tall and slender. Although the pieces differ in various formal qualities, they have a very unified feel due to several qualities that they do share. Most notable of these qualities are colors, integration of smooth and jagged edges, and smooth texture.

Content Analysis

The pieces of Samuel Jernigan’s Weight of Whimsy and Ideals exhibition reflect various themes of life and the contradictions that they pose to one another. Samuel’s artwork is influenced by common childhood memories and the shared feeling of nostalgia experienced by many upon looking at toys. The evident influence of toys in his pieces reflect an integration of the themes of abandonment and belonging. The toys that he was inspired by were those being sold in flea markets or thrift stores, that were no longer wanted by their original owners. This concept is what led to the artist’s utilization of toys as symbols of sad themes such as nostalgia, abandonment, and alienation. In contrast to such themes, Samuel’s pieces also reflect livelihood in that old toys are brought to life and given meaning through his art.

Synthesis/My Experience 

I absolutely loved Samuel’s work. I love the ideas and themes behind the pieces in his exhibit, and I can really tell that he put a lot of thought into what he was creating. Listening to him speak about his work and artistic career made evident that he is a true artist. Although I was a bit confused by the intended meanings of his pieces at first, I feel I have a gained a very comprehensive understanding of the ideas behind his work. I can see how feelings of abandonment and livelihood are reflected in his pieces. I really appreciate art that aims to convey contradictory messages. I think in this case, I feel a bit more of the sad feelings than the lively ones. Although Samuel said that he doesn’t necessarily feel the nostalgia that others do when he looks at toys, I definitely feel a lot of nostalgia. Thus, for this reason, I feel a bit more sadness than liveliness when I look at his pieces inspired by toys. However, I also definitely sense the lively and happy nature of them, especially suggested by the bright colors. I especially loved the bright fish sculptures. I think this may be because they remind of books that I have always loved, even as a child. Since they reminded me of my own childhood, they made me both happy and nostalgic for my childhood innocence and seemingly unconditional happiness. Overall, I really enjoyed Samuel’s exhibit because I understand and very much appreciate its themes and beautifully crafted and creative pieces.

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