Jonathan Christensen is a sculptor based in Logan, Utah. His recent exhibition at Utah State University’s Projects Gallery included portraits made of clay and found objects. The artworks illustrate Jonathan’s personal growth as a born-and-raised Utahn who has experienced a range of life-changing events. One being his parents’ toxic marriage, another being his decision to disconnect from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as an adolescent boy, in favor of immersing himself in the counter-culture of punk rock.
"As a child, I did question my connection to a higher being ... As a kid you're always taught that you're going to hear this 'inner small voice' is the phrase they use often, and I never felt that connection. Small events took place that kind of made me still question ... and then having never felt that, I just kind of realized I wasn't connected to the culture behind the church ... I just wanted to move in a different direction," Christensen said.
Jonathan’s sculptures are very expressive, showing the handmade marks and evidence of his process of sculpting the details of the faces, hairstyles, torsos and clothing, specific to each of the characters he creates.
"I just sculpt somebody because it doesn't matter who it is. The over-arching idea being that through these ... negative experiences, a lot of us can connect to them," he said.
This characteristic allows the sculptures to appear to be less connected to one particular subject, and more symbolic, as if they could resemble someone you know personally.
Looking around the gallery, one can see characters with a wide range of ages, with some male figures having mohawks, and others having bald-spots. The artist says each of these details is relevant to the concept behind the aesthetic.