my son Elias was born
10 22 several months ago. i love him huge. my work in the studio has always been slow, and is even slower at the moment. that's why you keep seeing the same work in shows and elsewhere. i'm not sorry.
i live in rural Tennessee with my wife, Meagan Kieffer. before parenthood, we spent most of our days in the studio, while teaching part-time in Nashville. easy street. things have changed, and now we take turns sneaking into the studio. (soon he'll be wedging our clay.) currently i'm teaching 2 days/week at Belmont University, while traveling to present workshops.
i'm not sure what "official" means, but this version makes me feel like a professional.
Briggs, Jason (b. Wausau, WI, lives in Watertown, TN). Jason Briggs received his BFA from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in 1995 and his MFA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1999. After a summer at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, MT, he spent 3 years serving as Artist in Residence at the Appalachian Center for Crafts in Smithville, TN. In 2008 Jason delivered an Emerging Artist lecture at the NCECA conference, and was soon invited as a visiting artist to The Taiwan National University of Art in Taipei, as well as several universities stateside. He received a Virginia Groot Foundation Fellowship in 2007 and a Tennessee Arts Commission Grant in 2006. Last year Jason was featured in Ceramics Art & Perception (issue #79--“Not So Private Parts”). His work has recently been included in “Corporeal Manifestations” at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia, “The Hermaphrodites” at the Wexler Gallery, and “Transcending The Figure” in Athens, OH. Briggs maintains a private studio in Watertown, TN, where he lives with his wife Meagan, his son Elias,
two cats, a cat, a dog, 2 horses, and all his marbles.
don't read this. it's written out of gratitude for people and places--it sounds pretentious. i don't have visions of grandeur--i'm a romantic. really, there's no reason for you to read this. maybe head over to the portfolio. not so many words.
i received my BFA from UW-Whitewater in 1995. a respectable, yet “under-the-radar”, art program. my decision to pursue a drawing emphasis, while misguided, led to a fondness for the basics (composition, eye movement, balance) while showing me the value of a harsh critique. when i finally took clay, i responded immediately to the process of making – the part my hands controlled -- and to the instruction. professor Charlie Olson, who welcomes the seduction, allowed me to focus singularly on the repetition of making. it was liberating and crucial: while i made tight, half-assed vases, charlie was quietly, resolutely, teaching me about quality. he is the reason for my life as an artist, and the reason i stubbornly persist. i love you buddy.
enough. he’s not dead.
in 1996 i entered the MFA program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. much of what i learned i soaked up from my graduate peers (matt kelleher, mike strand, chad wolf, leigh cohen). with beer. it amazes me the casual comments that have stuck; words that, at the time, sunk to the bottom. luckily, they bubble back up. the professors’ impact was immediate. Eddie Dominguez had a tornadic presence that proved art can vibrate out of the body. his permission to ignore the art/ceramics world, to look exclusively inward, resonates loudly still. Pete Pinnell’s technical savvy directly affected my work. but his eye for detail, his respect for craftsmanship, affected my attitude. then there’s Gail Kendall. the Queen Bee. the stern yet insightful motherly figure who took 5 seconds to change my whole perspective. “you don’t love making pots. you love decorating surfaces. do more of that.” it’s cool. she understood my compulsion before i knew i had one. i miss lincoln.
best of all, lincoln is where i met my wife. a bright young sculptor with a do-rag on. meagan kieffer and i spent the summer of ‘99 as residents at the Archie Bray Foundation in helena, MT where we ate, drank, and made work. (...yup). we rarely collaborate – but exchange ideas. she gets it. i respect her comments, and her work. later that year, we began a 3-year co-residency at the Appalachian Center for Crafts in smithville, TN. an out-of-the-way school that afforded us the most precious commodity of all: time. certainly not a place to rub elbows but, more importantly, a place to build kilns, concoct glazes, and test clay bodies. to focus. my work became much more articulate -- and slow -- matching the pace of life out in the hills of tennessee. thank god for waylon. early waylon.
i began teaching all clay classes at Belmont University in nashville in 1999, learning what it means to be cheap, adjunct labor. i’m still there, without much fuss. (ahem). good hours, and a good colleague make a difference. up to now, i haven't been willing to bounce around the country searching for The Job. in 2002, meagan and i bought a house (and built a studio) in watertown, TN. enough land for horses but not neighbors. i know this much: the original plan – sending work, practically anonymously (with a check), to juried shows – has changed. the new plan is murky, but it involves making, planting, weeding, loving, working, feeding, showing, growing, digging, sanding, poking, pinching, drinking, teaching, and hugging. and kissing. we’ll see what happens.
update, October 2011
it's true, kissing leads to babies. in April of 2010, lovely Elias was born. our plan to "strap him to our backs... keep on making art" has been modified. some babies just don't understand. predictions that child-birth would 'change' my subject matter were vastly dumb. what changed was our studio routine. we're coping.
after a 3-year move over to Lipscomb University, i'm back at Belmont. turns out, conservatism doesn't like me. luckily, other schools do: my workshop schedule has only gotten fuller. i'm reminded how many strong clay faculty --with strong programs-- are out there, and a part of me wants to be included. time will tell.