Emma Jewell (C’22) is a senior art major from Little Rock, Arkansas. Her work is characterized by creative overlapping of mediums, playful, and unexpected mark-making, and generous use of color that still sits behind a more muted somberness. This duality is what makes her work most distinguishable, I think. In highschool, Jewell planned to go to an art school, but eventually decided on a liberal arts route for the sake of practicality. “I don’t think I would want to go to art school and make my passion mandatory,” she says. At Sewanee, she tried to take a variety of classes in other areas to find a more useful major, many of which she enjoyed, but eventually thought “I just want to do what I love.”
In describing her art style, Jewell says, “It’s a controlled chaos, maybe; there is so much happening all at once in the world, and art is where you can control that.” She works in mixed media, each piece utilizing at least 3 mediums. While her work spans across a great deal of different subject matter, a thematic landing point she asserts is that “we are all one. We should be focusing on our similarities, not our differences, what we all have in common, and caring about that.”
Her show entitled “Nest” will be up in the Carlos Gallery next week with a reception held on Friday, April 1 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. “It’s all about home and the idea of settling, and that being a comfortable process,” she says of the show. The idea centers around “earth as home instead of the manmade structures we call home.” She continues, “our concept of home and what we care for, what we care about, has kind of shifted to [the] urban and industrial, and not the earth.” She recognizes the challenges of this philosophy, though. “How do we do that when we have to be mean to the earth, to like, have a pair of pants?”
To illustrate her convictions, one of Jewell’s projects consisted of making pillowcases that she stuffed with industrial materials to create something that looks appealing, but is loud and intolerable in reality. “Our man made version of comfort isn’t comfortable,” she says. Jewell frequently uses recycled materials and found objects to create her work. She mentioned constructing projects out of Shutterfly order descriptions, scrap fabrics, and an old door, to name a few.
Jewell cites several artists who have inspired her work: John Michel Basquiat, for his intuitive, untamed mark-making, Erika Stearly, for her expressive attention to living rooms and interior spaces, Dr. Suess, for his home-y nostalgia, and Andy Goldsworthy, for his transient natural creations in the woods. Goldsworthy’s emphasis on impermanence is very similar to Jewell’s lack of need for an audience. Because of her plans to travel once free from college, Jewell sees her art practice shifting fully to an informal sketchbook and pen. Art for the purpose of personal necessity rather than showing to others.
Emma’s aversion to materialism and excess consumption, (as well as turning a personal love into a business venture), is directly reflected in her discomfort plugging her own art platforms or advertising her art selling. While many aspiring artists would jump eagerly on the opportunity to flaunt their achievements through a curated website or active social media presence, Emma cringed at even the mention of such things. Sighing begrudgingly, she said “I guess you could look at ‘@emmajewellart’ on Instagram, but I hate instagram.” Speaking about the future she says, “that’s my biggest conflict, how do I do art freelance and not spend 80 hours on Instagram per day.” She does sell stickers and prints, and when asked how to find this business she said “if you see me on campus, and you want a sticker, just yell.”
While potentially inconvenient, Jewell’s adherence to personal and resourceful creation at the expense of more superficial pursuits is noble. While her desire to do nothing but “lay in a tent and color all day” may never come to fruition, her future as an artist will be inevitably strengthened by the genuine solace offered from artistic pursuits while not one is watching, as well as her commitment to making the world better, both in practice and through her artwork.