Jason Campioni, local artist and long-term pillar of the young arts community, debuts new work at the Cummer Museum & Gardens on September 7th. This marks his third Cummer exhibition in as many years, following 2011’s “50 under 50” work and last year’s Folio Weekly Invitational exhibit, where his multimedia sculpture “Between the Lines” premiered. Campioni also organizes and hosts Show & Tell, the longest running non-profit Artwalk exhibition, on the first Wednesday of every month at TSI.
Through this article we will learn about Jason, his background, and the themes driving his visual art, later expanding those ideas into his current work. Next week we’ll critique the upcoming exhibition.
To begin, a bio:
Jason Campioni is a multimedia artist living and working in Jacksonville, Florida. Jason's family traveled much of the continental U.S. before finally making Jacksonville their home in 1986. Frequently changing schools and friends, Campioni's imagination flourished. He developed a love for art and story, reading comics and drawing the subjects of his favorite books. As Jason's skills became more refined he developed an affinity for modern art and sculpture, winning the respect of his peers and instructors. He continued to see art as a device for telling a story; first his own then that of the world. Experimenting with various mediums and seeking new frontiers, Campioni's work and imagination became undeniable to himself and those around him. In 2009 the artist began showing his work in the public arena and shortly after found himself host and art director of Show & Tell, a monthly art showcase along Jacksonville's Art Walk. Jason continues to aspire to higher levels of sophistication in all areas of the arts, inspired by dreams, relationships and a study of the human condition.
Campioni's Motto: “My target audience is HISTORY.”
AS: You've noted that your audience is history. This relates to the idea of observing one’s self in the historical context; when you think about right now, in the context of your full historical career, where are you?
JC: I'm at the transitional phase between building a cohesive body of work and revealing that work to [the] audience.
AS: … [so] you have the body of ideas that will be the foundation for your 'mature career'?
JC: yes … The foundation for my work is a study of the world through the lens of an energy that moves through me. Often these works come to me as complete visions or dreams as a result of meditation or lucid dreaming. But rarely do they seem like something I have concocted intellectually, rather messages from somewhere or someone unknown to me. Between the Lines was no different. It came out of a respect for beauty in ugliness, out of an interest in something organic made from industrial waste. I suppose it is a symbol for the things that make men and women different. The refinement, class and beauty of woman. The rugged, dirty, crassness of man. These contradictory natures make us anything but equal, but just the opposite. We are two sides of the same coin, each with traits that complement the others' beautifully. That's where the title Between the Lines came about; between the lines of the equal sign is where the connection between men and women lies, not in the lines themselves. And in this existential way, we are equal, one's strengths completing the others' flaws and vice versa.
Jason’s work walks the line between traditional and progressive. Influences of earlier styles appear among original perspectives of those styles in most of his multimedia work. I wanted to know how he understood his own influences, feeling this was essential to understanding his aesthetic decisions.
JC: Everyone who desires to be a great artist wants to make a truly new and unique contribution to the history of art; his own movement, his own style, something that bears his unique fingerprint and that others can toss around and use in different ways but can always be traced back to its originator, its inventor. I am no different. I use anthropomorphism quite frequently in my paintings or sculptures, cross sections of hearts, tree limbs that resemble the muscular structure of arms, etc. Surrealism has always fascinated me as well as the futurists and you can see elements of that in my work. I think all my work carries a hint of conceptualism, almost like the act of extraction of the concept from my mind and onto the page explains the concept itself to the viewer and to me. . .
The Useless Eaters, for example, are creatures with no body, no substance. They have feet with which to move and mouths with which to consume. But they are what they eat and they eat garbage. They are a symbol of progress after the industrial age. Yes, we are moving, constantly developing more efficient ways to consume, but are we accomplishing anything new? They pose a question, as does much of my work, a conundrum on which to ponder. This is at the core of every piece I have ever created.
The body bottles ask are we spirits trapped inside bodies? Is the body just a container for some energy that moves through us, some dream, some light just below the surface yearning to escape but constantly drawn back in by the physical needs of its container? So I use these different styles and movements. I play with these tools created by great men of the past, Giants, to ask questions, the answers to which I hope will get me ever closer to developing my own unique tools. A new game with which artists can play. And I feel as if I am starting to see glimpses of that in my work. I am still fairly young. Many of the mysteries of life, of art, are as of yet unknown to me. But I can see them emerge from time to time. I can't yet put my finger on it and explain just what my unique contribution will be. But with every piece I move closer to it. With every question I come closer to the answer. And in the coming months and years I look forward to sharing that journey with a public that is hungry for answers, desirous for truths unspoken by twisted tongues. I yearn for that moment I can finally untwist my tongue and speak.
AS: . . . I think YOU just wrote your article hahahaha…
We’ll revisit Jason next week with this understanding of his underlying motivations in hand. In the next installment, Jason walks us through his recent work, explaining how the above foundations appear in his current exhibition, which opens at the Cummer Museum and Gardens on September 7th. For more information visit his events page here.