Isaac Jaegerman is a 2016 Bowdoin graduate who majored in visual arts. He was recently selected as one of 10 Emerging New England Artists by Art New England magazine and currently works as a technician in the visual arts department.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Lowell Ruck: How did you start doing art?
Isaac Jaegerman: I was doing art in high school, but I probably realized I wanted to do it [professionally] while I was here as a student. Basically in my first year I knew, and then in my second, third and fourth years I committed to it.
LR: What is your preferred medium?
IJ: At least while I was here taking classes, I gravitated towards two-dimensional media, like printmaking, painting, drawing and a little bit of sculpture. But in my last year in senior studio, I started doing cut paper work, which is kind of a blend between 2D and 3D, and thinking about subtractive versus additive processes. So that was the last year at Bowdoin, and I sort of zeroed in on it. Now, that’s most of what I do, though I still do some printmaking and painting.
LR: What subjects do you deal with in your art?
IJ: I really like landscape and I really like representational work, which I do occasionally. And I’m starting to blend representational with abstract and geometric stuff. They’re not actually fractals. There’s no mathematical logic to them, really—they’re kind of improvised. I’m really more interested in how the shapes interact with each other. A lot of my most recent things have been cut papers that are folded or bent over each other or themselves. So it ends up being a two-dimensional flat piece of paper that’s taken on a form.
LR: How did your time at Bowdoin shape you as an artist? How has the transition from being a student to a technician been?
IJ: I loved learning from the professors, and so that’s probably a big part of why I’m here again as a technician. But I had some time away, about a full year after graduation where I went and was editioning prints in a studio as an assistant printmaker. I helped another artist with some murals that he was commissioned to make, and then I was working on my own studio stuff at home and traveling with friends. So there was sort of a break where I was able to grow, and I had a residency too that changed a lot of my work. I had a bit of time to think about my work and how it was progressing.
LR: How do you feel about being selected as one of 10 Emerging New England Artists?
IJ: It’s really nice. It was a super nice surprise. Suzette McAvoy [executive director and chief curator at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art] nominated me, which was a generous thing for her to do. It’s been a nice little burst of recognition and it’s affirming for sure.
LR: Do you have any art that you’re currently working on or exhibiting?
IJ: Yeah. I have a woodblock and etching combination print that’s in a show for the Maine-Aomori, Japan printmaking exchange that’s going on right now. And then I just also put a piece in Creative Portland’s gallery for a black-and-white show that includes juried Portland and Maine artists. So I’m sort of just over those two little things and looking for more shows and developing new work.
LR: What is it like exhibiting in Portland?
IJ: It’s fun. I haven’t really done it very much—these are sort of the first couple pieces that I’m getting out there. But yeah, there’s a good art scene. I feel like I’m getting to know a lot of people and I’m starting to work with some friends that also graduated from Bowdoin down in their studio. We’re putting on some exhibitions throughout the year, so there’s some activity.
LR: Finally, what does art mean to you more broadly?
IJ: Personally, it’s a pretty meditative thing, and especially the work that I’m making right now is very slow-moving and kind of methodical. So it plays a pretty relaxing and meditative role in my life. And then also, I think we all need to slow down and take time to make things, to be creative and use that side of our brains, to actively make things rather than just respond to or passively absorb and take in a lot of stuff. It’s something that you need to do in order to relieve built-up creative energy.