Born in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1958, Edgar Jerins began his training as an artist at age 14. By 18 he won a scholarship to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. At the time of his graduation in 1980, Jerins had won several of the school’s awards.
That same year, Edgar Jerins won the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant, an international award for Realist artists. The grant enabled Jerins to travel to Los Angeles where he continued to perfect his exacting realism, often as portraits in oil pastel. Upon his return to the East Coast, Edgar Jerins won additional honors, including the Nathaniel Burwash Artist Award, the Caroline Gibbons Granger Memorial Award for Painting, an Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts Grant, and a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant.
Edgar Jerins looks deep into the struggling souls of troubled people; he lays bare their uneasy relationships and harnesses their despair into sublime works of art.
The subjects of Edgar Jerins’ monumental charcoal drawings, some over eight feet in width, are often his friends and relatives, people whose lives touch the artist directly. We see them in domestic settings of living rooms, bedrooms or front porches, places normally associated with rest and safety. But instead of rest there is disquiet, and there is no emotional safety.
Edgar Jerins doesn’t tell us the details of their troubles. He doesn’t reveal what it is these people are either guilty of or victimized by or the source of their conflicted relationships. Instead, he leads us into their drama by capturing the essence of their circumstance and presenting it as narrative, much as a playwright invites us into a scene. His exquisitely rendered realism treats each figure as a portrait of an inner soul. Their troubles seep into their physical features, in the lines of their face, the look in their eyes. Their attitude towards life and fate imposes itself on their bodies, the way they stand, sit, turn their heads, or hold objects. Though their situation may be stressful, even threatening, and their reaction to it or handling of it disturbing, Edgar Jerins nevertheless teases forth their basic humanity, and by doing so, touches ours.
Edgar Jerins’ extensive list of exhibitions includes significant shows in venues across the United States and in the country’s major art centers of New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Los Angeles. His work has been featured in important art and culture publications such as American Arts Quarterly, American Artist Magazine, American Art Collector, Italy’s influential Arte, and has been favorably reviewed in the New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer and other journals.
Edgar Jerins, his wife and children live in New York City.