It's been awhile since I posted an interview feature on the blog, but I didn't want this guy to slip away before he saluted ol'USU farewell. Ernie Gentry is a third year graduate student in the ceramics program, a long standing resident here in the studios of USU and one heck of a funny and fabulous character. Ernie has been around these parts for the past six years, arriving back in 2004 one week after getting hitched to his southern belle, Sage. Ernie is also a southerner, hailing from Clinton, Mississippi and a product of Ol'Miss' a.k.a. University of of Mississippi's BFA program. His classified 'special ' student status here in Logan eventually led him into the MFA program, which he began in 2007 and is now about to finish! Hooray Ernie!
Back at Ol'Miss, Ernie had based his undergraduate thesis work on John Neely's salt firing research, for which he was keenly interested in. But when prompted as to why he picked USU to do graduate studies, he insisted that it was the energy and vitality of the studios that he picked up on immediately on a trip out to visit the faculty and facilities. Ernie was well familiar with the reputation of the program and it's faculty, and was most impressed with how everyone seemed to be both welcoming and helpful during his visit, not to mention inspired to work.
Ernie actually wasn't overly impressed with the medium of clay when first introduced to it in his first ceramics class, an elective that he took at a Junior College and took much more of a liking to painting. It was only because he actually failed that first co
urse that he had to take it again, at which point a better and more inspiring teacher won him over and ultimately changed the course of his career.
What inspires you?
"Anything and everything", says Ernie. His current body of work embodies his fascination with interesting and foreign objects. Ernie is inspired by everything from Mid-century design, chinese bronzes, to African currency and old age undergarments! This guy loves to find inspiration from objects that were once useful and have been taken out of their functional context and now have instilled value.
Ernie and Sage are off to Cedar City, UT in less than a fortnight. Sage has been working equally as hard as Ernie while he's been playing around with mud, and she is graduating this year as well from a Master's program in Landscape Architecture. She's landed a sweet position in the southern part of the state and Ernie has a couple of solo exhibitions planned for this summer.
We're super stoked that they aren't moving too far, and hope to visit them in their new parts in the fall, perhaps to get in some of that sightseeing we keep talking about and maybe they'll serve us up some of that yummy southern cooking they excel at. Jambalaya! And congrats to you both.