Arts & Culture

‘I Had a Vision’: UK Sculptor Feels Call to Honor His Heritage in His Art

Video by UK Marketing and Brand Strategy.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 20, 2021) For 15 to 20 years, artist Jeremy Colbert sculpted a successful career for himself in ceramics and metalworking. But it would take a series of visions, perchance dreams, to bring him to one subject matter of his work — his heritage.

“I was very cautious on using Native American content in my artwork,” Colbert said. “… I was taking a nap. I woke up from that nap because I had a vision, and I literally got up, rolled over, drew something out on a little piece of paper that I could find. And on that piece of paper was this really beautiful looking totem sculpture that I dreamed about.”

Born in southern Oklahoma, Colbert is a Chickasaw. His artistic journey began in ceramics in 1994 and grew to include metalworking as he became interested in blacksmithing and metalcasting. But it would take a series of visions many years later for him to begin to weave his own thoughts about his heritage into his work.

Watch the video above to learn more about the thought, research and work that goes into the creation of Colbert’s totem poles.

About Jeremy Colbert

Colbert is a lecturer in sculpture, ceramics and foundations at the School of Art and Visual Studies in the University of Kentucky College of Fine Arts. He received his bachelor’s degree in studio art from Southeastern Oklahoma State University in 1999 and his Master of Fine Arts in sculpture and ceramics at Florida State University in 2002.

After teaching sculpture at Florida State University and University of South Alabama, Colbert took a position as a facilities specialist in sculpture and ceramics at UK from 2008 to 2015. A lecturer of art since 2016, he gives lectures and demonstrations in a variety of processes including patinas, powder coating, molding and casting techniques to sculpture classes. He also teaches Metal Casting, Blacksmithing, Drawing and Three-Dimensional Design classes, as well as a Bachelor of Fine Arts practicum course to prepare students for technical assistantships.

Colbert’s work focuses on personal expression with basic levels of communication. “For me, the right material and image says the right thing. It is all about connecting to the viewer in a visual conversation.”

Photo of Jeremy Colbert forging a piece of metal while two other men watch
photo of Colbert with protective gear on has he uses a torch on his sculpture
photo of Jeremy Colbert using a torch to make a sculpture

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.