Jason M. Stewart is a New Jersey based interdisciplinary artist with a focus on installation, painting, and sculpture. Jason received his BFA from Rowan University and his MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2015. Jason’s practice inhabits multiple modalities, creating works that address notions of “place” as articulated by the various voices of the artist.
While the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi is centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection, nothing was imperfect about my experience at Open Wabi. I loved every minute of it.
Located in a quaint rural town of Central Ohio, Open Wabi offered a vast property filled with fields, old factories, wooded areas, ruins, and remnants of old structures. The studio spaces were larger than any I’ve ever worked in and, as if they weren’t big enough, I had the ability to use the massive communal spaces and outskirts of the property. As a multidisciplinary artist focusing on installation, I found the property and structures to be motivating and inspiring. It was refreshing to find open space and a calm environment to think in, both of which are scarce in my New Jersey/New York area.
Jason and Tricia, the founders and facilitators of Open Wabi, are warm, friendly, and independently ambitious artists. Their personalities and roots in the Ohio art community make them great resources for critique, feedback, and networking with artists near and far. While Jason and Tricia provided Sunday dinners at the residency, many meals were informally shared. Most of the residents would congregate in the communal kitchen at mealtime to cook and eat together. As a born and raised New Jersian, I was even relieved to learn that there was a world-class pizza joint just a short walk from the property (one that lived up the most critical of doughy-cheesy-goodness).
The life of an artist can be a lonely one. Working by yourself in a studio with little to no feedback – questioning or second-guessing most of what you make. Open Wabi provided me with an art discourse that I had not experienced since finishing graduate school. I even collaborated with a fellow resident, something I hadn’t done since undergrad. The property at Open Wabi had me generating installation ideas months after returning home, making me eager to one day attend again so I can actualize some of the concepts in relation to the space. Overall, Open Wabi was an intensely positive and unique experience that I would love to repeat.
Work from the Open Wabi experience
Collaboration between Justin Sorensen and Jason M. Stewart at Open Wabi Residency in Fredericktown, OH. 2016.