What first interested you in painting?
Growing up, my dad was a musician and my mom was a painter so I was inclined and encouraged to access my creative side from an early age. My mom would do art projects with my brother and I where we would make tissue paper collages with modge-podge. I hold those memories dear to me and see those precious times asbeing the fundamental reason why I decided to make painting my life priority.
You’re currently finishing up an MFA at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts… what has that experience been like?
My first year at PAFA was full of experimentation, false hopes, and failures, and I think that was exactly how it was supposed to be. Finally, during the end of the summer between 1st and 2nd year, I made a series of paintings that I liked and it felt like a door opened. Then the door closed again.. Through my experience, this is what painting is.. you can never have complete control over your success and failure rate, and you just have to have this underlying faith that something good will happen again.
Your work combines printmaking, digital processes, and painting. Can you tell me some more about your practice?
I combine printmaking, digital processes, and painting in my practice because I see them all as being valid tools for arriving at imagery, ideas, and subject matter in my work. So if I end up using a digital drawing that I made in my living room while laying on the floor, listening to records as a direct inspiration for a large-scale painting, then that is great!
What is the best advice you’ve ever received? Is there some advice you’ve received that you’re glad you ignored?
The best painting advice I ever received came from my undergraduate professor, Gideon Bok. He told me, ‘whenever someone tells you to do something to a painting, do the opposite thing.’
What do you feel is the most challenging thing about pursuing art, either creatively or professionally? Or as a current student, is there anything that you feel challenged by in particular related to graduating and leaving the university setting?
When I think about the current political situation and the fact that they are working at cutting so much funding for the arts, I get really discouraged and disheartened. It’s really sad.
How would you define “success?”
Success for me is going to the studio everyday and figuring out something new every time I go there.
You’re probably deep in MFA thesis work; what are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on some mid to large scale paintings and sumi ink drawings on paper that deal with a type of imagery that be read as something specific one minute, and then can become something entirely different the next. Like when a painting of boxing gloves can turn into butts or testicles. It’s like in comic imagery, when a space between representation and abstraction is accessed and a multitude of associations can be revealed to the viewer. Then, there is not only one read and one meaning.
Find more at sambernardjones.com and on Instagram @sambernardjones!
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