Jason Sweet is a sculptor, painter, drawer, performance and installation artist. He has exhibited his work internationally and has been awarded a number of public art commissions. Sweet, is a former Assistant Professor of Art at Atlanta Metropolitan State College. He received his Master of Fine Art Degree in Sculpture from the University of Illinois Urbana/Champaign where he studied under renowned glass artist William Carlson and artist/critic Buzz Spector. For his Bachelor of Arts he attended the University of Northern Iowa studying under the direction of sculptor Tom Stancliffe and performance artist Jeffery Byrd, while also apprentising with artist and now emeritus professor Preston Jackson. In 2001 he moved to Atlanta of which he currently resides, continues his artistic practice, and is heavily involved with Atlanta's reknown art collective Smoke School of Art.
"Early on in my art carrier, while in undergraduate school at the University of Northern Iowa, I had the opportuninty to do apprentice work with artists, Tom Stancliffe, and Preston Jackson. With Stancliffe I was able to gain the experience of working on public art commission work. I would assist in the various stages taken to complete and install a fabricated outdoor sculpture. The knowledged gained was extensive. Stancliffe was extremely invaluable in this area of influence. Much is accredited to his tutelage. I learned the process of submitting a sound proposal, presenting the proposal, and if selected creating,completing and installing the proposal. The technical skill developed during this period of my life, working with metal, problem solving design concepts through the manipulation of materials, was much attributed to Stancliffe's direction and mentorship. In summer months I would also work with Preston Jackson. Jackson challenged me to be aware and sensative to my artistic hand in relation to the material; and by investigating the interplay between the two I should find personal artist meaning as this interplay relates to me. Working with these artists was grooming my formalist notions in art making. Lacking however, was my understanding of conceptual subject matter in my art. Though at this time, performance artist Jeffery Byrd consistantly challenged me to explore personal conceptual notions in my work. Fortunately I did not fully develop this understanding until graduate school.
While in graduate school at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign I began to get away from my more traditional formalist notions and began to explore concept through installation and performance art. In time professor Buzz Spector directed me to investigate art theorist Ernst Hans Gombrich's notions on recall and recognition with in his book "Art and Illusion". The result of this research challenged my understanding of my own personal identity both externally and internally, and how identity experiences effect the work I create.
I am racially mixed of both African American and Irish descent. As an infant I was adopted to a white family of which my father is Jewish. Coming of age I was fortunate to be raised culturally astute and continue this awareness today. What also continues today are my external experiences of people in question of my racial or cultural background. I have been identified as Latin American, West Indian, Middle Eastern, North African, Pacific Islander, Asian, White, Black, and more. These external experiences are synomynous with my internal recognition of identity, and the variety of cultures I personally indentify with because of my racial make up.
All of this in time has influenced my work to create a balance between polarities and or dualities. No matter the material, form, content, or body of work; at the core of the work it will possess this form of identity conceptually. This notion can be found in my 3D work, 2D work, performance and installations. In my work that gives more attention to formal design, most often there will be a visual push and pull. The same notion push and pull will also be captured in my coneptual work.