Artist Formerly Known As: Jamie Gardner

You’ve done some works that are fairly recognizable on campus. Can you talk about the face in front of Spencer Art and the Purple Cow seen at Dodd during homecoming?

They were both big, which lets me get some mileage out of them in terms of name-recognition, but I did not consider them to be particularly powerful works of art. The face I liked; it was satisfying. Taking the body and breaking it down into planes is something I am still interested in doing, possibly in metal. I was surprised it stayed up as long as it did. I expected it to last a month, but it was sheltered from the weather and no one told me to take it down, so it got left up there.

The cow was my first commission, and it was a pain in the butt to build. I basically ended up skipping most of homecoming to get it done, which sucked. I was really satisfied with the udders – those were very good udders. I wasn’t totally satisfied with it, but on the whole it was a cute cow and I got paid $250 for it, so it was a good experience.

Both of those pieces were made out of disposable materials. Are they gone now?

The face got taken down at the end of last year. The seniors used it for a party where they had student artwork. Amy Podmore [professor of art] was thinking of taking it upstairs for Drawing I to use for face modeling because it breaks the face into planes and stuff, but it was too big, so it languished in a hallway in Spencer for a long time. The photography teacher kept bugging me to take it away and over Christmas break it got taken away for me. Haha, now it’s in the trash back behind Spencer.

Getting snowed on?

Yeah, I might go out there and take some measurements because the proportions were pretty good and I might do the same thing in metal.

I heard someone tried to steal the cow . . .

Yeah, a couple of kids tried to steal it and were evidently apprehended by security while walking down Spring St. I was actually pretty flattered. I dunno whether they were trying to take it down to the Log or a common room or maybe to the dump to dispose of it. I prefer to think they were trying to take it for their own enjoyment, which is flattering. They might have been trying to get rid of it.

That’s a lot of work to get rid of something.

You’re right, they could probably just light it on fire. The cow’s in storage now, they wanted something sturdy enough to be broken out again so it’s sitting in some B&G garage waiting.

So, uh, have these pieces gotten you laid or what?

I keep expecting that, but they don’t. That’s why I got into art in the first place – because I heard that women liked it, but so far it hasn’t panned out.

Do you drop the name and stuff?

I’ve tried that, but it’s like, “that’s cool.” People are very polite, but the women aren’t flocking to me. I should take up acting instead, like my suitemate Peter Van Steemburg – I bet he gets lots of play. I am thinking that if I start doing very sensual sculptures of nude models and stuff that may work.

Now, I haven’t been very aggressive about it. One guy in high school suggested to me that I should be the type of dude who goes out and gets people to model for him and then seduces them. Haha, of course, he was gay and trying to hit on me at the time. But you have to take the compliments whenever you can get them.

Aren’t you also an EMT? How does that work in?

It really doesn’t work in anyway. I’m pre-med. The only connection I can see is that surgery is fun and kind of sculptural. Over Winter Study, I shadowed a doctor and got to play with organs and such – that was kind of like doing sculpture.

After college, med school?

I’m not nearly good enough to be an artist. I don’t have the stamina or endurance to do it. People say only do it if you feel that you can’t not do it because it is such a hard career. You really HAVE to do it. I don’t have to do it. I love it and I love the art history side of it too – it’s a lot of fun, but I don’t really consider myself an artist.

I guess this goes along with not feeling like an “artist-artist” because I don’t put a lot of expression in my work, I prefer stuff that is more reserved, like that face is pretty typical of the type of work I like to do. The focus is more on the form and the process. I think I get too self-conscious about it. Maybe that’s one of the reasons that it hasn’t parlayed into sex. That’s what the women go for, the troubled expressive artist – like Picasso, he very much had the psychological aspect, and he got all the women.

I know you’ve got some choice words about Rudy Giuliani. What are they?

Well, when he wanted to shut down the Brooklyn Museum last year because of the Sensation exhibit, I haven’t forgiven him for that. I have a real problem with religion interfering with stuff like art, especially at a public museum. It smacks of fundamentalism and the kind of stuff you expect to find in Iran. I find it really offensive that he wanted to close the museum. I think a lot of people get way too sensitive about art – I don’t think you should be shocked by art. I mean, what’s the point? Just don’t go. People take it as a personal affront. They get mad about stuff that is weird or bizarre. There is plenty of really bad stuff in this world to get mad about. With art, nobody’s getting hurt, it’s just people thinking and expressing.

Do you want to give any shoutouts?

Shoutout to all the art majors and faculty. I’d like to give a shoutout to Professor Hartley Shearer who recently died – he was teaching one of my classes this semester, and he was just an amazing guy to listen to – really brilliant. His wife was teaching the class with him, and she was just great too, my deep sympathies to her. Shoutout to the sculpture department, Amy Podmore, Gary Lohnes and my fellow TAs, Eliza and Seth.