3rd Place recipient

Jason Briggs

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, he spent 3 years serving as Artist in Residence at the Appalachian Center for Crafts in Smithville, TN.  Jason received a Graduate Teaching Award in 1999 and recently an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Tennessee Arts Commission.  He is in several public and private collections around the country and abroad, including the World Ceramic Center in Ichon, Korea, and the Ceramic Research Center in Tempe, AZ.  Since 1999 he has run the Ceramics department for Belmont University in Nashville, learning first-hand what it means to be adjunct labor.

Jason and his wife Meagan Kieffer headed for the hills in 2003, where they bought 5 acres without neighbors.  Here, Jason and Meagan keep 2 horses, 4 goats, their studio, and all their marbles.  His work is influenced more by The Vodka than by The Scene.

Though my objects contain strong visual references, I am more interested in the implied tactile ones; the things that stir in me a compulsion to touch. Beyond other external inspiration lies this basic, primal impulse. I recognize – and act upon – a profound desire to push, poke, squeeze, stroke, caress, and pinch. I intend for my pieces to invoke a similar sort of temptation. Obvious sexual references, along with an extravagant, fetish-like attention to surface, can arouse a yearning to touch as powerful as the act itself. In this way a parallel can be drawn with pornography — my first encounter with Playboy, for example. My emotional response, utter fascination, depended upon the compelling desire to touch flesh. The fact that I couldn’t was overcome by my imagined participation. When one views pornography, I would argue that one is thinking about touching — about how it would feel. I want my work to elicit a similar response: “What if I could touch it?”.I am searching for a fresh perspective. I strive to create an object I’ve never quite seen before – one whose inherent mystery and intrigue quietly insists upon viewer interaction. An object begging to be explored and examined in much the same way a child investigates the world: with wonder, curiosity, and also trepidation. It’s very important that the work be challenging. A sense of unease is critical because it encourages the viewer to consider carefully what they are seeing – at what is compelling them. I would like my work to exist not as the ubiquitous “art object”, but as something more enigmatic – foreign yet familiar, handmade yet somehow organic. Rather than suggest nature, in my own way I am seeking to create it.