"Taking the Time" Holiday Card by Jared McGriff

Inspired by the Museum of Modern Art's Junior Council, who in 1954 initiated a holiday card program to help foster their common interest in the arts and a desire to see artists supported soundly and liberally in this country, Commissioner asked painter Jared McGriff to create a holiday postcard about connection and community.

Titled Taking the Time, it's a reminder to all of us to take the time for yourself and for your loved ones this holiday season. Read more about Jared, his art and his process in the feature interview below, which originally appeared on Voyage MIA.


Jared, tell us your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.

I have used art as a mechanism for escapism, experimentation, and creating my reality for as long as I can remember. About 10 years ago, I started to formalize my compulsive drawing and sketching habits by keeping sketchbooks and then picking images to re-create on the larger-format canvas and watercolor paper. I think of my practice as a way for me to distill memories and document the visual information from people and the surrounding environment that frequently goes unnoticed.

While I do not have formal art training, I’ve used my educational experiences in Architecture (BA, University of California) and business (MBA, NYU) to inform my practice as I spend a lot of time digesting how people interact with each other and their environment. My story as an art practitioner has been one of balancing a variety of interests, experiences and places, and using these disparate encounters as ingredients in the images I create.

At this point in my art journey, I am focused on sharing my work and finding opportunities to use my work as a tool to bring people together.

We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?

My abstract, figurative and portrait watercolor and acrylic paintings are inspired by visual distortions, memory fragments and ephemera. Watercolor allows me to create scenes that are transitory and impermanent, but in conversation with something that is long lasting and recognizable – like hairstyles, vibrant floral patterns, or a deliberate gaze.

My work is meant to encourage the viewer to identify commonality with the people and environments created while asking questions like, What is this person thinking? What language does this person speak? What moment am I sharing with this subject? In this manner, my work is an invitation to explore the roots that link people together and contemplate similarities instead of focus on perceived differences.

The images I create are an attempt to document the collective conscious, informed by a connection to history and global perspective – voyages distilled in paintings through simple line, color and composition. I hope for people to have visceral reactions to the images and walk away with ideas that help them see world through a lens that is smaller and more connected.

The stereotype of a starving artist scares away many potentially talented artists from pursuing art – any advice or thoughts about how to deal with the financial concerns an aspiring artist might be concerned about?

The financial challenges of choosing an artistic path are very real. An artist has to be deliberate about funding their practice and investing in themselves even when the returns are undefined and ambiguous. I have always managed to balance a traditional career with my artistic endeavors. I think it is always good for artists to learn skills and work in industries that allow for freelance and flexible work schedules to provide the streams of income necessary to support the art practice and allow the time to create the work. In addition to being comfortable with switching gears between traditional professions and art practice, I think it is important for artists to be open minded about building their audience and finding individuals, institutions, and organizations that will support their work.

Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?

I most recently exhibited my work at Prizm Art Fair during Art Week. My website is jaredmcgriff.com and I’m on Instagram as @watercolorbrother. For those interested in learning more, I encourage them to contact me for a studio visit.

Joanna Davila