500X Alumna Interview: Jennifer Pepper
500X: Tell us a little about yourself. What is your artistic background?
JP: Hmmmm. Where to start? My primary artistic influences came from my upbringing. I grew up in rural areas in Kentucky and Tennessee. This environment nurtured in me an ongoing curiosity in systems found in the natural world- this interest in systems would later include my response to our use of technology. These were the ideas that fueled my passion for making things (which includes painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, sound, and video). After earning a BFA in painting and drawing from University of Tennessee in 1992, I moved to Texas and worked briefly in art restoration. I earned an MFA at the University of North Texas in 2001. After graduation, I joined the education staff of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. In 2005, our family moved to TN. Since moving to TN, I’ve been exhibiting and working in visual arts (teaching- at Lipscomb University, curating, actively supporting community art non-profits like Coop Gallery and Locate Arts, etc.) Currently, I’m living with my husband Lee outside Nashville, TN and raising two boys (Miles 14 and Cy 12).
500X: What years were you a member of 500X?
500X: Were you ever a 500X officer? If so, what position(s)?
JP: Yes, treasurer
500X: Who were some of the other members with you?
JP: Iris Bechtol, Brennan Bechtol, Charlotte Smith, Luke Sides, C.J. Davis, Becca (Paul) Booker, Jim Burton, Mirka Hokkanen, Simeen Ishaque, Sarah Maxwell English, Jen Rose, Takako Tanabe, Erik Toston, Veronica de Anda Tosten, Brad Wehring, Tara Welch, David Wilburn, Mary Nicolette, Keitha Lawrence
500X: Tell us about your time at 500X. What was it like?
JP: I was just out of the MFA program at North Texas (as were most of my 500X peers) and 500X gallery provided a proving ground for us as young artists. We worked hard and often after hours (most of us had other jobs in addition to making art and exhibiting) to prepare, curate and install our art work.
500X: Do you have a favorite moment from your membership?
JP: (More than one!) I especially relish the times spent curating and installing with Iris Bechtol, Takako Tanabe, and Charlotte Smith (the three of us were in few 3 person exhibits)—we spent many hours together planning, giving feedback, curating, installing and tweaking, lighting and labeling. Life- long friendships were melded through the mutual bond of creativity and trust.
500X: What do you think you gained from being a 500X member?
JP: The experience of running a gallery with other artists was invaluable. Also, the community of 500X artists from my tenure is staunch network of support.
500X: How has 500X impacted your career as an artist?
JP: I have had many opportunities (including a solo show) because of the enduring friendships I made with members of 500X as well as supporters of the gallery.
500X: Is there anything you'd like to add about your experience of being a member?
JP: I’d add gratitude to all those that support 500X in whatever capacity…as artists (past and present), supporters, partners of artists, patrons….