Monday, August 6, 2018

Spotlight on Jason Pearson, DAI Curator Whose Been Traveling with His Twin

This past year saw a transition in the leadership at the Duluth Art Institute. Christina Woods stepped into Annie Dugan's shoes as director and Jason Pearson became the new curator. In May we got a chance to see some of Jason's work as part of a triple opening that also featured work by Jonathan Herrera and Tara Austin. Jason's exhibition filled the Corridor Gallery, a collaboration with his brother titled Travels with My Twin. The halls featured selected works from the Pearson Brother's Collection, various items "collected" over the past 25 years.

EN: What prompted you to assemble the show with your brother?

Jason Pearson: When I accepted the position at DAI I understood that I would be charged with guiding a non-collecting institution, that in fact did hold a collection at one point in time, intrigued me.

As an art student I knew photographic collections were built and maintained from a place occupied by wealthy, rich white men who could afford to travel to locations, collect images of the pyramids, indigenous people, and exotic animals, etc. Images and objects circulated among the wealthy as documents/proof of conquest. (This was not my experience growing up and no value was attached to being creative or working in a creative field by any member of my family.)

My generation questioned art history. Collection once revered and looked at in awe, was now considered exploitation and held in contempt. This was the take away from my early art education experience.

(My) twin brother Jesse is also and artist. Most people thought we were adopted.

My goal in presenting a collection of work from the people who helped shape and guide myself and twin brother as artists & in general, would be a relatable entry point for me to get to know members of the community and talk about the role of curator.

EN: In what way is it different to be twins rather than just brothers?

JP: Defining my individuality against someone that is genetically identical is a strange thing, even to us. We developed a hyper-awareness of even small differences between us and can pinpoint the shift a single experience we had independent of one another or was it genetic - nature vs nurture  --experiences.

The first time we saw our likeness in popular culture was Selma & Thelma, Marge's chain-smoking crabby twin sisters on the Simpson's. That was our cultural mirror and reference…

When we were younger it was difficult to socialize with others.

(I have a longer story about the first time I saw a portrait of the 2 of us together and how seeing that image is the basis for my fascination with images/art.)

EN: How did you go about choosing what to put in and what to leave out?

JP: Editing was done separate of one another and if we both pulled an image of the same person we picked the one that was, we thought, more telling of the subject.

EN: What other kinds of art expression do you pursue?

JP: Overall I feel everything I do centers around being creative. I used to tell my co-workers I had to go home and curate my kitchen again. This was half true.

--I'm working on the final stages of a book with Jesse, roughly 25 years of collaboration together (photos). Title: Farewell Tour. Publisher: Fraction Editions. Essay by: Sarah Bay Gachot.

--Beginning stages of a film project.

--Beginning stages of a graphic novel about being a curator (comedic & political).

--Midway through compiling a book of short stories - (working title) Sweating in my raincoat.

EN: What have been your biggest influences as an artist or arts curator?

JP: Literally everything around me has the potential. People/experiences around me, notably living in and going to school in NYC during 9/11; Jesse almost dying from a rattlesnake bite. Mostly music right now.

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