Artist Jim Arendt brings his pain and salvation to Bloom

Brooke McCoy, Photos Editor

     Since the end of December, artist Jim Arendt’s show titled “Threadbare” has been on display in the Haas Gallery of Art. Currently, Arendt is an Assistant Professor and the Gallery Director at Coastal Carolina University. He received his BFA from Kendall College of Art & Design and his MFA from the University of South Carolina.

     On Wednesday, January 31 he visited the gallery to close the show. Many Bloomsburg students came to hear him speak about his art and what inspires him to create his structures and portraits.

      Arendt was born and raised in Flint, Michigan which contributes to his work by showing his working-class roots. During his talk, he referred to the struggles he experienced with growing up on a farm in Michigan, and he went on to say that art made him less angry and made his demons tangible.
Each of his works displayed are made out of recycled denim because he believes that materials have meaning through their texture. Something like expensive oil paint would be fine for showing gods and goddesses because of its rich and gentle texture, but used denim shows an individual story of the working class. In his pieces, he cuts different types and colors of jeans to build up a portrait, and each bit is a little knowledge of the person who previously owned the jeans.

     In several of his pieces, he uses the motif of twins to show conflicting ideas. This is visible in his piece titled “Sarah & Augustus” because on the left side, the boy has a hauntingly sad look to him, whereas the boy on the right has a slightly more optimistic demeanor.

     In addition to the portraits on the walls, he displayed totemic figures made out of denim and wood, and even though the majority is made out of denim, there are different textures for skin, hair, eyelashes and facial hair. All of the figures have an agonizing or aching expression, which is most likely relating back to the pain and difficulty of growing up in Flint, Michigan.

     At the end of his talk, he decided to remind all the art students in the audience that making art is never bad. “You can be general motors and wreck a town, you can start a war in Afghanistan and it could continue 17 years, or you could just be an artist and you might be able to fix a few things. Or else, you could be bored waiting tables or working in a retail shop for the rest of your life.”

     As a professor, Arendt wanted to inspire the art students of Bloomsburg to keep working because our world is in desperate need of new ideas. “I am yet to find and step over that starving artist,” he said. “If it’s worthwhile, you will never be starving.”



Jim Arendt’s “Sarah & Augustus,” made of denim and depicting twin boys with conflicting outlooks.