ARTISTIC INFLUENCE : TJ ERDAHL

Here at Osky we do more than just print shirts in our free time, some of us are students, some of us create other works of art and some times we just lounge. One of our team members, Bryan Coons, is still enrolled at the University of Northern Iowa. His focus, ceramic arts. He works figuratively and animalistic at times. With this passion however, comes more influence, like the work of Thaddeus Erdahl.

TJ received his BFA in 2004 from the University of Northern Iowa and than his MFA from the University of Florida in 2009. He has had numerous teaching, demo, and workshop gigs throughout the years and next semester will actually be teaching here at the University of Northern Iowa. TJ works in figurative ceramic sculpture. To get a better sense of TJ’s work his artist statement is as follows: Our personal identities are a kaleidoscope of first person narratives influenced by the experiences and interactions with the world around us. As humans we are compelled to tell stories that illustrate analogies; blending together archetypes, shared experiences, and personal mythology. Who we are is an ongoing process of reinterpretations, observations, and personal connections.

Ceramic sculpture and portraiture, in particular, are forms of a visual narration that I use to satisfy my urge for documenting what I see in human nature. Evocative of well-loved toys and obsolete artifacts, I use the implied history of these objects to encourage the viewer to disconnect from the present situation and conjure their own individual narratives from a number of my sculptures.

One of the most attractive qualities of human behavior, a coveted characteristic belonging to successful communicators in any field, is a sense of humor. Humor is the great lubricator that ultimately allows us all to move on, let go, and laugh at ourselves. I use humor as a veneer to cover certain autobiographical components of my life. Some things in life are so serious, you have to laugh at them. Working with concepts that are personal and sometimes narcissistic perceptions of the gloomy side of life, humor is my buffer. Dry or irreverent, it is humor that mystifies those tragedies. Sometimes in my work it confronts the viewer, creating an uncomfortable situation that simultaneously conceals and lays bare, guides and misdirects their sense of social standards and manners. I seek to convey not just the outward appearance of people, but also the intimate concept of self.

His well crafted works of art will be shown at the University of Northern Iowa Gallery of Art January 9-Feb. 1 within the show Modern Motives: Influences in Today’s Art. He will also be speaking at a reception for the show on January 18th at 7:00 PM at the Kammerick Art Building Rm 111. To check out TJ’s blog and more of his work visit: http://tjerdahl.blogspot.com/

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