North Texas Daily

Prize winning art student uses family history as inspiration

Prize winning art student uses family history as inspiration

Prize winning art student uses family history as inspiration
July 19
15:20 2013

Tyler Owens / Senior Staff Writer

Digging for hours at a time in local swamps and wooded areas, UNT studio art senior Jordan Grimes uncovers natural items for his Native American-inspired, award-winning art.

Grimes, a double major and focus in drawing, painting and watercolor, recently placed first in the Texas Spirit Art Show in Graham, Texas – the first art show he ever entered.

Since he won the show in late June he has been recognized by several media outlets and art galleries like the Bath House Cultural Center in Dallas.

Two centuries ago, his great aunt, Cynthia Ann Parker, was captured by Comanche Indians and fully assimilated into their culture. As a tribute to his family’s culture and history, Grimes primarily paints and sculpts Native American tribes.

Grimes began by drawing and painting and eventually decided to add natural elements like flowers and press plants before moving on to the three-dimensional sculptures.

“Eventually these paintings weren’t enough,” Grimes said. “I wished I could see these people for real like this, and it dawned on me that I could just make them.”

He said that he uses natural elements that are associated with Native American culture like feathers, plants, insects, horns and animal bones, which he finds and incorporates into a cast of a human model, like special effects studios use in movies.

He said that it takes the perfect combination of casting and gathered natural elements to bring his pieces together and that there is no timetable for how long it could take to complete a piece.

“I never really know what’s going to happen,” he said. “So sometimes I’ll have a casting that I’ve done, sit in my studio for months or a piece of wood sit in my studio for months because if I don’t have the right piece of wood to go with the casting it won’t work. And you can’t force it, you’ve just got to wait for it to happen naturally.”

Three of his sculptures, one painting and several pieces of Grimes’ handmade jewelry are on display at Oxide Fine Art and Floral Gallery in Denton.

Oxide owner Warren Hooper said that Grimes’ pieces were well received when he entered an open call at the gallery.

“Jordan had heard about it, submitted his artwork, and we were shocked and loved it from the moment it walked in the door,” Hooper said.

Though most of his classmates and critics have praised his work, Grimes said that his professor Susan Cheal, coordinator for the drawing and painting program at UNT, was critical of his work.

Cheal said that Grimes is ambitious and thoughtful and that she feels that it is an important part of an artist’s journey to grow through the critique of others.

Tricia Howell, Grimes’ fiancé and primary model for his casting, said that though he understands the importance of the critiquing process, nothing a professor could have said would have deterred him from making the sculptures.

“He’s very independent,” she said. “I think he’ll listen to what anybody says, but usually he already has in his mind made up what he wants to do. He has a very strong family background and he has a lot of people that support him, and maybe when he does start to doubt himself, that gives him that extra ‘I can do this.’”

Grimes will enter three original pieces to the Bath House Cultural Center’s “This is what I think” art show on August 24. The pieces will be on display from August 24 to September 28.

Photo by James Coreas / Editor in Chief

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