Jacob Lehmann

MFA | Painting & Drawing


Swelling up from the mud of the Blue Ridge Mountains, I am a multi-media artist from Clemson, South Carolina. While I am currently based in South Bend, Indiana, I am interested in investigating my own upbringing as a queer person within southern Appalachia and how the intersections of self, culture, and memory inform who I am in the present. I grew up bouncing between the suburban spaces of my parent’s home and the rural locale of my grandparent’s home. The time in which I grew up is saturated with pop culture that collides with the experience of shucking corn in the hot sun. I received my B.F.A in Visual Art at Clemson University in 2018. After working as a high school art teacher, I returned to school to obtain my M.F.A at The University of Notre Dame in 2024.


My work is an investigation of memory and how formative experiences construct and inform the complexities of identity. Growing up queer in Southern Appalachia, the intersections between cultural navigations and the edenic qualities of childhood act as a backdrop for these material constructions. I have adopted the term “sites” to better describe this work, as they are meant to manifest the interior spaces in which memories are produced. I also play with the dialectics of the interior and exterior of the domestic space. The exterior symbolizes the unknown or uncontrollable, while the interior is heavily constructed and curated by the author. Memory operates in a similar way; it is distinctly altered through the lens of the present. By engaging in this distortion of space and place, the works act as interior sites that echo these moments. These works are not only about the experiences in these spaces, but also the relationships that saturate them. This current body of work represents the relationship I had with my grandmother and the spaces, both physical and mental, that we co-inhabited before and after her death. Still, these are attempts at rebuilding what cannot be obtained, attempting to touch what cannot be reached. In this way, I am balancing grief and joy within the work, which act as constituents of the inherent complexity and resonance of familial relations and space-time. The work takes shape through painting as an expanded field with permeable boundaries that includes construction, object, and installation while also acknowledging the power of the found object or readymade as an intentional strategy. The visual language of physical object and representation differ greatly. The ways in which we as an audience interact is dictated by the presence of said objects, creating a cultural or personal connection to certain elements of the compositions. These objects act as souvenirs or artifacts of the past. In addition to these items, weathered surfaces and absence of the figure manifest the sense of longing. This yearning for the moments from the past, regardless of how fraught they may seem are merely an attempt to connect with how we come to be.

From What I Remember

Where the porchlights gave way to the shadows of the pines

Found quilt, toy car, gravel, porch light, silkscreen and oil on panel | 18’ x 7’ x 3’ | 2023

Mama calls me a packrat

Found ladder, plush toy, nightlight, found fan, mason jars, bible, dried roses, ashes, veg - all, found fabrics, toy gun, pine, wood paneling, silkscreen on panel | 8’ x 10’ x 4’ | 2024

She rests there, and every chance I get, I visit her

Artificial turf, acrylic and wallpaper on panel, found breadbox, dried roses, ceramic, found lawn chair, hillbilly wind chime, dirt, pinwheel

Heaven is real, and it is beautiful

Carpet, Found CRT Television, Wood, Glow in the dark stars, vhs, and oil on panel | 12’ x 10’ x 9’ | 2023

The land that raised me

Found peach box, acrylic on denim, artificial turf, and toy bug | 12” x 8” x 3” | 2023

Some days the load is easy

Found chicken feed bag, found garden hoe, acrylic, polyfill, origami paper