ARTMAKING – Jacob Aaron Schroeder

Decadent. Frosted. Adorned: Jacob Aaron Schroeder speaks on molding, pasting, and metaphorical decorating. 

final_jakeMPLSTYLE: Where do you come from?

JACOB: I’m originally from central Minnesota, St. Cloud to be exact. My mother and father moved there from Minneapolis sometime after getting married and wanted to settle down somewhere a little more quiet. Most of my extended family, however, lives in and around the Twin Cities area, so Minneapolis had always been like a second home to me. I knew I always wanted to move here and go to college here, I just felt too out of place in St. Cloud. Luckily enough, I was accepted into the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and am now a recent graduate with a BFA in Drawing/Painting.

MPLSTYLE: Do you remember your first painting? 

JACOB: To be honest it was not a painting, but it was one of the first things I remember making when I was in kindergarten. It was around Halloween and I made a drawing that involved Frankenstein, Dracula, a ghost, a mummy, and a werewolf all gathered around a table eating dinner together. I was super proud of it.

MPLSTYLE: Your affinity to pastries and decoration is apparent in the vast majority of your work. Where does that come from what is your desired impression, if any, for the viewer?

JACOB: Growing up I dealt with issues of eating disorders and negative body image. I became obsessed with fitness and food from an early age and used both as coping mechanisms to help me deal with these struggles. Eventually I learned to use food, sweets especially, as a way of overcoming what I was dealing with by connecting with others and openly communicating my issues. I also found this confectionary language as the perfect metaphor and visual aesthetic for a lot of the ideas I was interested in making work about. My love of decoration and beauty lends itself to a lot of my other interests I have including fashion, art history, and figures within the LGBTQ community. If there is one impression I want to have on my viewers from seeing my work is that they consider beyond the face value of the work. I’m not making a pretty painting just for the sake of making a pretty painting.


MPLSTYLE: I love the three dimensional texture of some of your acrylic paintings. What is the technical process like to create that decadent dimensionality on top?

JACOB: I use gallons worth of an acrylic medium called light molding paste. It literally has the texture and consistency of buttercream frosting, it’s amazing! Unfortunately though, it doesn’t taste anything like it looks. To get the color I want, I will mix acrylics off to the side on my palette until I get just what I want and then incorporate it into the molding paste. I tend to not mix more than I use at any given work time since it is expensive. I then put the acrylic/medium mixture into cake decorating bags attached with various tips and squeeze it out onto canvases. Dependent on how I want the acrylics to lay on the canvas, I will either lay them flat on tables or hang them on the wall as I work.

MPLSTYLE: Tell us about your studio space. In what kind of environment do you work best?

JACOB: Right now I have been fortunate enough to keep working in my studio at MCAD, but I will be moving out of it very soon since I graduated last month. I’m hoping to find a new studio space that I can split between a number of other painters that I know starting sometime in the fall. While I’m an extreme extrovert, the time I spend in the studio is all me time. I throw on my noise-canceling head phones and basically forget about everything else. I’ve also noticed from working in my current studio that I’ve become incredibly sensitive to how different light sources affect color. I now try to always work in a combination of natural light and fluorescent lights to understand how the colors I’m using will be understood in multiple settings.

MPLSTYLE: How much or how viscerally do you feel your personal life makes it into your work?

JACOB: My work is my personal life. I understand them as one in the same. The majority of the work I create is based on how identities are formed through experiences, the relationships I have with myself and others, and how these relationships ultimately affect one another. I’m not sure I could be able to remove myself from the work I’m passionate about making.

tumblr_n2oun8DHef1rhg7olo3_1280MPLSTYLE: From cake platters, to condoms, and all types of food, you’re quite fearless with using found materials. Has this openness ever resulted in unfavorable repercussions in the technical execution of your work?

JACOB: Oh definitely. See, a lot of the materials I use, while pretty, are typically not the most durable or longest lasting. I’m learning each time I use a new material how to keep it as archival as possible and I love it. I’m always interested in reaching and learning about new things and materials are no different.

MPLSTYLE: Who have been some of your greatest inspirations?

JACOB: I can honestly say that this past year has been one of the most drastic in terms of changes in my practice and I can credit a lot of that to Jim Hodges. Jim’s exhibition Give More Than You Take at the Walker was probably the most influential show I have ever seen in my life. To be able to see the journey made and success that was possible for a queer artist, I now know that it was instrumental to my practice that I saw it when I did.  Not just on a purely visual level too, mind you, but the fact that I realized I could trust my own aesthetic as a queer artist and allow that to help inform my work. I can also say that I’m constantly inspired by those who challenge the gender binary. In particular, I’m constantly inspired by drag queens. The intentional artifice that is created around an additional identity for the love of entertainment and performance is the impetus for some of my newest work. I understand my art as my drag.

MPLSTYLE: What’s up for the summer?

JACOB: Two really big things actually! I have my first post-grad show and will be a part of a group show entitled Liminal at Form+Content Gallery in downtown Minneapolis. The opening reception is on Saturday May 31st and the show runs until July 5th. I will also be traveling overseas to Germany for a curatorial internship through the WorkART Kunstverein Fellowship Program. This internship hosted through the U of M and Germany’s ADKV is a professional opportunity to work with one of Germany’s many community-based nonprofit art associations and galleries dedicated to making contemporary art visible. I will be living and working in Braunschweig, Germany and honestly couldn’t be more excited about it. Working with others who are dedicated and excited about perpetuating contemporary art within a community is something I could see myself doing in the future like at the Walker or Minneapolis Institute of Arts, so to get this opportunity right out of my undergrad is beyond amazing.


Check out Jacob Aaron Schroeder’s blog HERE.  

Photography Savanna Ruedy

Interview John Mark


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