For many art teachers and history professors, art is supposed to make a social statement. Artists are the counterweights to the plummeting anchor that is society, fighting to keep civilization dignified and away from the evils lurking in the depths below. But for senior Jarad Solomon, art doesn’t need to be a regulator for society.
“I don’t believe that art needs to have a statement,” he said. “It just needs to look cool. If it has a statement then it’s that much better, but do you like Bob Dylan or do you like The Shins, you know? Your reason doesn’t have to mean anything.”
Solomon’s opinion comes as qualified as it gets for a Miramonte High School student. He has been creating since he “first learned how to use a pencil,” and has never looked back. Starting with drawing books and moving on to painting and computer graphic design, he has developed a style bursting with abstract forms and colors. Solomon has a voice all his own, and will never be one to let that voice be pinned down by societal obligations.
“My graphic design teacher asked me, ‘Don’t you want to be a graphic designer to change the world?’ And I said, ‘You know, that’s kind of cool, but I just try to make stuff look cool,’” said Solomon. “I see a wall, and I’m like, ‘that wall is kind of boring me right now.’ It’s like I’ve got a little explosion in my head, and I’m just going to explode if I don’t take it out and put it on that wall.”
It is this pure and unfiltered approach to expression that gives Solomon’s work its character. There is a playful, at times anarchic, element to his work that evokes strong and primal emotions in the viewer. He creates for the sake of creation, and is driven by no higher power than his own human spirit. Look around his room and this will become evident. Vibrant posters and album-cover printouts cover the walls, and guitar equipment sits within easy reach of both bed and desk, ready for when inspiration strikes. This is a space occupied by an unbridled soul.
“I don’t want to connect the need to the enjoyment,” said Solomon. “I’m not planning on continuing art in the professional sense. It’s more of a hobby for me now. Because I figure, as a graphic designer, you never draw what you want to draw. There’s always a customer telling you what to do, and I know that I just would not be able to handle that at all.”
That being said, Solomon still takes his work very seriously. He is a very lighthearted person, but a dedication to originality guides his every piece.
“If it looks like something someone else did, why would someone bother looking at yours?” he said with uncharacteristic agitation. “I despise realism [for that reason]. When you put a landscape in front of me I’m like ‘AAAUGH!!! Why’d you do that?! Just take a picture, it looks way better!’ If you can do it perfectly well, it’s almost as good as a photograph.”
So what we have here is a young artist who isn’t a slave to society, but neither is he without ideals. Solomon makes his vision manifest for the joy of it, and has a deep commitment to that joy. If art is a lens through which we can look at the world, then he believes that the lens should be as powerful as possible.
“If you are going to taint reality then go all the way,” he said. “Really [make it abstract] while you’re at it.”
Be sure to visit the Miramonte art gallery for periodic installations of Solomon’s work. He has also recently finished an album of solo recordings, which you can hear on his Facebook site. Entitled This Album HaSongs on It, it consists of a series of electronica pieces that exemplify a knack for composition and texture derived from his years of artistic experience.