It’s always a joy to follow up with artists whose work I shared on the site a while back, and Brian Jerome is no exception! Over two years ago his work appeared on Young Space, and it’s exciting to see how his practice has transformed and progressed. More at the links below!
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Tell me a little bit about you!
(From my statement:)
Brian Jerome was born in York, Pennsylvania, June 12, 1990. He grew up next to a corn farm in Dallastown, Pennsylvania. Jerome received his BFA from Tyler School of Art with a focus in printmaking in 2013. He was accepted into The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts for his MFA on scholarship in 2015 where he began to focus on multimedia, abstract painting. At the Academy, he engaged in critical aesthetic theory and art history, culminating his studies into his thesis, On Honesty and Intention: The Works of Mark Rothko and Cy Twombly.
During his graduate studies, his work began drawing heavy influence from a curiosity of language and linguistics, emotive expression, and the symbology of Carl Jung. His work has attempted to make a bridge between subjective, internal dialogue and the failure of conventional language to express the fullness of the human condition.
Jerome currently lives and works in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania since 2008. He is an avid and skilled cook, having worked as a professional cook for over ten years.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
I grew up as an only child with much older parents. They found early on they could leave me be with crayons, pens, and paper and I could occupy myself for hours. My teachers were all really supportive K-12 with my art making. I don’t remember when I realized I wanted to be an artist, it was always the thing I cared the most about.
I grew up with Marvel comics and spent time drawing super heroes and wanted to be an illustrator. After I got my BFA, I worked as an illustrator for 2 years, before realizing the graphic design client/business element wasn’t allowing be create things that felt really meaningful to me. I ended up spending more times in museums and reading more biographies of artists and realized what I want to express isn’t purely objective, but more emotional and more symbolic on how thought works.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
I am interested in using art as a form of communication. I think audible and written language fall short a lot because of the subjectivity of how we all learn words. When I tell someone I “love” them in a romantic sense, it is more than likely a slightly different definition of the experience of learning the word “love” to a partner.
My work deals with isolation and mortality as well. I have had 4 major near death experiences. I believe all humans are afraid of dying alone, some are better at ignoring it than others.
Right now abstract cloud and flower motives have started existing. Clouds as forms of sorrow or rain, but they are necessary for growth and the sun is always hiding behind them. The flowers are more recent and I believe that symbolize change.
What is your process like?
I staple raw canvas up onto the walls of my studio. I usually start with a base layer of a dry medium to start building history, narrative, and to start compositional ideas. I work on about 5 pieces at a time, that way if I get stuck on one, I can move to another and that usually will end up helping me discover how to work the problematic piece. I spend a lot of time with my works before making decisions. A painting usually takes about 2-3 weeks.
When I work I am focused on my mental health and emotional well being. I have bi-polar and I’ve found when I am in my depressive state, I can expel a lot of my unhappiness onto a canvas and leave the studio more refreshed.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?
Mark Shetabi from Tyler School of Art said some of the most influential things to me. He lectured on making art for “ketchup people.” People that only use ketchup because its sugary and not overly strong on the palette. I did not want to make ketchup art.
John Dowell, also Tyler, taught me lessons in responsibility and honing in on style.
Dr. Kevin Richards, Tom Czsazar, Bruce Samuelson, and Kate Moran from my MFA at PAFA for all strong influences on me reading, writing, and making honest art work.
Describe your studio.
My studio is in Harrowgate Kensington in Philadelphia. Its in a ware house that I split with my friend Zachary Combs from grad school. I have an L shaped wall where I tack my canvases up. Its messy but its 600 feet of storage.
What do you find most challenging, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
I hate having lulls. I want to be a happy productive person, but I find in times of great joy, I am much less productive. I actually had a 2 year long relationship where my girlfriend would spontaneously break up with me if she thought I was being lazy.
If you could sit down for dinner or a drink with anyone, who would it be and what would you chat about?
Anthony Bourdain: culture, food, experiences, art, alcohol
What are three words you would use to describe your work?
Honest, diaristic, free
What do you do when you find yourself in a creative rut?
Drink beer and watch the news
I love not being tied to one medium. I love letting a pastel do what it needs to do, paint to be paint, and graphite to be graphite. I keep them all on a cart and grab them with whatever they need to ad to the story.
What do you need or value most as an artist?
I value freedom. I get to make whatever I want everyday of my life. I feel like that is one of the most amazing things about being alive.
What keeps you creating?
I have to. I can’t stop. I never have been able to. Its so ingrained to my daily life that I think it would be impossible not to. I am a cook by trade, so when I’m not painting or making film, I’m cooking.
What are you working on right now?
I am working on a series of 3 paintings in preparation to start a large 5 foot piece. I am also starting early debates and preparation to apply for a PhD in philosophy next year.
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