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Jim Arendt is recognized for artwork by Fiberart International

September 12, 2019
Jim Arendt, associate professor of visual arts and director of the Rebecca Randall Bryan Art Gallery at Coastal Carolina University, won first place at the Fiberart International 2019 exhibition for h

Jim Arendt, associate professor of visual arts and director of the Rebecca Randall Bryan Art Gallery at Coastal Carolina University, won first place at the Fiberart International 2019 exhibition for his work “Cat: Free Will Ain’t Cheap.”

Fiberart International 2019 is an art exhibition and competition hosted in Pittsburgh, Pa. Fiberart is open to submissions from textile artists around the world and seeks to present a wide variety of work.

Arendt grew up outside of Flint, Mich., where he developed his inspiration for his unique art style. Flint is the birthplace of General Motors and the United Auto Workers Union and suffered the loss of 80,000 manufacturing jobs, from which the city never fully recovered.

“Our region underwent a radical shift in economics as the industrial and agrarian economies disappeared or were outsourced to different regions and countries,” said Arendt. “The resulting impact on the lives of the people I grew up with has left an indelible mark on my outlook on our relationship with work as a concept as I seek to make sense of the narrative that unfolded.”

In his artwork, Arendt explores how the rapidly changing economic system and the way work is structured effects people’s lives. He uses materials in his work that carry a meaning and sincerity through telling stories of people’s lives as a way for him to understand how they fit into the world. Materials like denim show a type of blue-collar, working-class person for Arendt. Most of Arendt’s artwork is made out of a denim material which makes the Fiberart International exhibitions very enjoyable for him.

“When I was young and my family was living through the farm crisis of the early 1980s, I remember my father sitting at the sewing machine patching his Wranglers in the evening after work,” said Arendt. “By my early twenties, that memory mixed with the stories of other working people and led me to denim as a possible material that was much closer to the truth of their lives than oil paint.”

Arendt completed the bachelor’s of fine arts program at Kendall College of Art and Design in 2001 and went graduate school at the University of South Carolina where he completed the art studio program in 2005. After earning his graduate degree, he was an adjunct instructor for three years at USC. He began working at CCU in 2011 as a lecturer and later became an associate professor and the director of the Bryan Art Gallery.

Since the late 1990s, Arendt has competed and exhibited in many different group and solo shows. He won numerous “best of show” awards, such as ArtFields 2013 and Intertwined 2015. He competed in Fiberart International in 2013, 2016 and most recently in 2019. He has judged numerous local, regional, and national exhibitions in support of the arts across the country.

Arendt is passionate about showing off his artwork and exhibiting all around the country. He seeks to discover people who can connect and be impacted by his work.

“My favorite audience are elementary school students that are bussed to museums and encounter a living artist,” said Arendt. “They are my jam.”

Visit jimarendt.com or fiberartinternational.org.