Newman Hosts a Gentleman’s Game

Our Artists-in-Residence, Brandon and Jason


Jason and Brandon

Earlier this month, Newman welcomed our first “artists-in-residence” for the 2016-17 year to our campus: Brandon Friend and Jason Douglas Griffin, a duo based out of their studio in New York City.

While Jason was born in the DC Metro area, Brandon hails from Queens, NYC. The two attended the University of Maryland College Park, where they took classes in the Department of Art Honors Program, first meeting in 2001. In 2008, the pair decided to share a studio space, producing their first collaborative piece in 2011.[1]

Currently, Newman has several pieces in the gallery from their current series: Gentleman’s Game. The series’ title derives from one of their earlier pieces: an abstract game of chess, symbolic of the ebb-and-flow relationship that Jason and Brandon share.[2]

However, as Brandon notes, back in 2011, it was quite apparent who worked on what portion of a certain piece, as the two utilized their individual techniques on each section, which led to less unified works. While Brandon explores each piece with a paper-and-collage style, he explains that Jason brings a “wild card” element to each work, using spray paint and water to create unusual shapes and marks.

This being said, in their most recent works, the artists have evolved their artistic approach from each other, establishing a symbiotic relationship to the point where each work looks chaotically seamless. While each work exemplifies their trademark multimedia approach – employing a combination of traditional paints, paper, silhouettes, stencils, and spray paint – every one of their pieces brings with it a varying degree of abstraction and exploration of a new style, a new method of mark-making.

While the two maintain their signature multimedia approach in the series, Jason explained that both he and Brandon try to keep their work fluid and to always give themselves permission to not have a finished product in mind. Jason is a strong believer in the concept that “the journey is the destination” when creating their pieces.

the journey is the destination

— Jason Douglas Griffin

For example, one of the works currently in Newman’s gallery, titled Elder, began as the two explored the idea of superheroes in modern media – their emotions, their personalities, their day-to-day lives – and expanded by considering an older superhero, aged but certainly not a “washed-up has been.” Thus, Brandon and Jason developed the abstractly stoic veteran on display in our gallery.

Even at Newman, Jason and Brandon continue to work on their series, and anyone passing through the gallery will note the diverse array of artistic tools lining the center table. Finally, this Wednesday, September 21st, Jason and Brandon will unveil their newest piece to Newman’s community of students, faculty, and parents. Until then, stop by anytime in the next two days to observe as these two artists create another astounding piece of artwork.


Edited By Rebecca French