Jefferson Godard

April 14, 2014

Jefferson Godard is an adjunct professor of Interior Architecture at Columbia College Chicago, video art curator and director of Aspect/Ratio in Chicago. He has worked on residential projects in his hometown of Miami, Florida as well as an award-winning urban park competition Bahndeckel located in Munich, Germany. Additionally, he has exhibited at Terrain Exhibitions and Riverside Arts Center.

How has living in Chicago affected your work? Chicago is betwixt the major bicoastal centers in the US and provides a wonderful home for passionate people and welcomed me! Thankfully, my passion for video art was fostered in this great city. My entrée into the Art World was through working on a collecting group called Verge at the MCA (Verge has now become Emerge and is a membership driven group that brings emerging artists work into the collection of the MCA Chicago). Chicago also gave me opportunities to start my curatorial practice with galleries and not-for-profit spaces. All of this led to Aspect/Ratio!

What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I am psyched about my upcoming collaboration with The MISSION in June! Sebastian Campos and I worked on a recent group show at The Mission in January with Ella de Burca, Cameron Gibson, Orr Menirom and Bryan Zanisnik. This show, entitled “Dis/placement” also staged a performance by emerging Irish artist Ella de Burca. Please stay tuned to our opening at Aspect/Ratio on June 6th as Aspect/Ratio will host the The MISSION!!

What phrases or trends do you wish to never come back? As for trends, I hope that video artists consider abolishing the practice of video stills as a surrogate to video art! Force curators and collectors to focus on the VIDEO and not a more easily attainable photo! As for sayings, I hope to never hear the following: “Gag me with a spoon,” “That’s deuces,” or, the worst “interesting…”

Tell us about your collection and how it developed. My penchant for video art came while I was in graduate school for architecture. The physical location of my project was Berlin and it became difficult to understand the city without getting beyond ‘Wars and Walls.’ Film as a structural and conceptual element became a way for me to see Berlin.

How long have you lived in Chicago and what brought you there? I have lived in Chicago for the past 9 years and love brought me to the city! After living in Berlin for three years, Miami did not have the cultural energy that I needed at this time. Then, after meeting my partner Jeroen Nelemans who got accepted into the Fiber and Materials department at the School of the Art Institute for his MFA, I saw a wonderful opportunity to move to Chicago. What is funny is that for the first two years everyone thought that I was attending SAIC as well. So, in a way, I am an honorary graduate of SAIC as well!

What’s your absolute favorite place in the world to be? My favorite city/place would be Berlin. Whether during winter holed up with my friend Kerstin Lamb and a milchkaffee; in the fall or spring walking around abandoned and repurposed train stations that became museums or parks (Hamburger Bahnhof and Goerlitzer Bahnhof) or the summer when day and night blend deliciously together, Berlin is it! In Chicago, it would have to be Mies’ Federal Plaza. I love the proportions and relationship that he created in this amazing public space. It elevates the sense that an urban dweller has in a federal building; it brings the city to the urbanite and challenges traditional courthouse construction and the scale of the post office allows us to have a platform to view the vertical landscape of Chicago, genius!

What are you really excited about right now? My upcoming honeymoon! We are headed to LA and San Francisco following the pioneers; there had better be gold in those hills!

Most embarrassing moment? This would have to be in the seventh grade when I so desperately wanted to fit in. I stayed awake all night teasing my straight and single-length hair into a spiked do. Using almost an entire bottle of hairspray and mustering up all the gumption that I could, I walked into the school and everyone started to laugh at me! When I say everyone, I mean staff, crossing guards, classmates, everyone…I was horrified and immediately went to the bathroom where I doused my head in water. At this point I went to the school nurse and feigned illness in order to leave school…

Describe your current studio or workspace. My gallery Aspect/Ratio is located within the West Loop gallery zone in a live work building at 119 N Peoria. We are cleverly and inconspicuously tucked in the back of the third floor at unit 3D. The space is part of a larger studio (3D) with the artists Jean Frater, Jeroen Nelemans, Allison Reimus, Nancy Witsi-Grayson and Nadia Webb.

What were you like in high school? I was completely out and therefore extremely popular. Emphasis on the “out”, as I was the first person to come out while in my high school. It was very hard but seeing that many came out after my lead, it was totally worth it!