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Friday, August 1, 2014

First Friday: Public Art from Brian Jobe

Repetition signals endlessness. This concept is expressed in the construction of interactive, representative, and gestural passages. My projects are focused on altering foot traffic within outdoor and indoor spaces and reflect a desire to engage the public in a physical, sensory experience. The human instinct to move through corridors is psychologically innate and my work responds to that inner motivation.
                                                                                                                         -Brian Jobe

This month I am learning about the world of sculpture and public art. The work of Brian Jobe in particular. Public art is so fun and interesting. And I'm sure particularly fun for the artist. Cities that embrace public art seem more together to me...more communal in a way. I guess it is because it encourages groups of people to sit or stand and observe. And this observing quite often opens lines of communication between strangers and new connections are made. I think we get into a lifestyle that discourages interaction but work like Brian's can help foster alternate behavior. 

Without further adieu, here are some questions from PP and some answers from Brian.

Recently, the Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum in Knoxville, Tennessee commissioned me to create a public art installation titled Right Angle Reply (Tall Grasses). I’ve had collaborative experiences with artists and architects in the past, but the connections and support I received with this recent project have been really valuable. I engaged with local businesses in the planning and construction process and, as a result, received donations of materials and labor in full. I am profoundly grateful to General Shale, Johnson & Galyon Construction, and Sequatchie Concrete for their support. Additionally, my consulting architects were Christopher King of Smee + Busby Architects and Professor John McRae of the University of Tennessee College of Architecture + Design. My utmost thanks goes out to them.

The use of brick and other modular building units suggests permanence yet houses the fluid movement of the public within these passages. There is a terrific tension embedded in that dynamic of static and active. Also, the use of modular units creates a sense of visual rhythm and can, in a sense, mark time in relation to footsteps taken within the passage. The color accent provided through masonry paint breathes additional life into the public’s experience of the work and can serve as a visual element to heightens that interaction.

The universal nature of the angled corridors creates a space of increased awareness for a person within the piece. When the zigzag motion slows the visitor’s motion, they become more engaged and aware of their surrounding context. I'm thrilled by the possibility of visitors interacting with it as a stage, meeting point, and visual marker. I hope that it can be a place for people to gather, rest, move, and think. It invites all ages to walk through it, lean against it, sit on top of or next to it. It is a series of open pathways allowing visitors to come in and interact with it at multiple points. This interactive experience is something that people will remember being a part of, and it is designed to be a destination spot for people to return to time and again.

PP: When did you decide that sculpting was your art-form of choice? 

BJ: I grew up drawing (graphite, charcoal, conté crayon, etc.) and that was my focus in high school, but when I arrived as a student at the UT School of Art, I gravitated towards sculpture. For me, sculpture was a way to draw spatially and, presently, I approach sculpture through the lens of architecture and design. Having an architect for a father was also very formative in my aesthetic development.

PP: What convinced you to create sculptures?

BJ: I'm not sure that it was one factor, but the building process itself has a kind of magic. Progression from step to step in the construction of three dimensional work, regardless of material or scale, is always very rewarding and can feel very different based on the materials in play.

PP: Tell us about the materials you typically choose to use in your work. What made you decide to use these materials?

BJ: For many years, my studio practice was about having the work defined by material choice, but now the concept (specifically, creating path-based projects) drives the material choice. Formerly, the selection of thread and pre-fabricated plastics was a way to draw in space with linear material and lead the viewer's eye in a visual, spatial experience. Presently, using construction grade material is a way to give structure, permanence, and gravity to the designs.

PP: Does creating sculptures force you into public art?

BJ: Not at all. But, I am very interested in creating work that is of real value to the public at large and fills a societal need.

PP: What sparked your interest in public art?

BJ: I have had the privilege to study under, know, work for, etc. a number of amazing artists who create public and they inspire me. Bill FitzGibbons and Ken Little immediately come to mind.

PP: Can you share the intent behind public art for someone who may not be familiar with this type of work? And the intent behind yours? I guess it may change some from piece to piece?

BJ: For the artist, the intent in many cases, is to create work that serves as a public meeting point and inserts an identity and increased value into the space it occupies. That is certainly my goal and I also want a sensitivity to site to define my public work.

PP: Meridian Angle at Covenant is such a pretty piece to me. That may sound ridiculous, but it is so interesting in the gallery space and I love how you are drawn outside...Did you construct the piece around the gallery or did the space you exhibited your work in have anything to do with the concept or design?

BJ: Thanks! Yes, that project was entirely conceived of with the dimensions and spatial qualities of the gallery in mind. The unique quality of the triangular window space seemed like a great destination point for the path to point towards.

PP: Does the space you are creating in always impact your work?

BJ: Yes, always. On the front end, I have to know the dimensions and key interior features of a gallery or museum space or the specifics about a particular outdoor site (topography, vantage points, public access, local colors, history, vegetation, water table facts, etc.). Spending time in that place throughout the duration of the project adds a richness to the construction process and can influence finishing details.

PP: What was it like to be an artist-in-residence at Bonnaroo?

BJ: That experience was wonderful since it centered around creating a collaborative piece with Jason S. Brown and Christopher King. In the planning stages, we decided on a utilitarian bench project that fused many of our shared interests. Your can see photos of the project here.

PP: You are teaching correct? Where and what are you teaching?

BJ: Yes, for 4 schools...      

1) Adjunct Art Faculty, Lincoln Memorial University, Harrogate, TN (2013 – Present)
(Art Appreciation, Online Art Appreciation) 
2) Adjunct Art Faculty, Roane State Community College, Oak Ridge, TN (2011 – Present)
(Three Dimensional Design, Art Appreciation, Online Art Appreciation) 
3) Adjunct Art Foundations Faculty, The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division (2010 – Present)
(Drawing, Perspective, Fundamentals of Design, Color Theory For Print)                 
4) Adjunct Art Faculty, Pellissippi State Community College, Knoxville, TN (2009 – Present)
(Three Dimensional Design, Sculpture I, Drawing I, Gallery Practices, Western Art History I & II) 

PP: How do you think teaching impacts the work you do? Does it at all?

BJ: In order to be an effective educator, you must draw from personal experience and the benefit of having an active studio and exhibition practice is that I have a lot of background to draw upon in the classroom. Students can sense if a professor really knows his or her stuff and I definitely want to give students a fulfilling experience regardless of the subject matter.

Brian Russell Jobe (b. 1981) is an American artist working in sculpture, installation, and public art. His solo exhibitions/ projects have been on view at venues such as Mixed Greens Gallery (New York, NY), Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum (San Antonio, TX), the University of Wyoming (Laramie, WY), the University of Tennessee College of Architecture + Design (Knoxville, TN), and the McNay Art Museum (San Antonio, TX).

Born in Houston, Texas, Jobe received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Tennessee in 2004 and Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2006. After living in Brooklyn, NY for a time, he relocated with his wife, painter Carri Jobe, to Knoxville, TN.

To see more of Brian's work visit his website.

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