Jacob Mandel’s work focuses on ideas, introspection, memory, and emotions. Through his practice he reflects on experiential phenomenon using photography as a parallel to the way we see the world. His work is influenced by a passion for the history of photography, and a constant engagement with attempting to define his perception of the world around him. Mandel believes photographic processes can be used to subvert expectations of what a photograph can or must do. Through that contradiction of purpose he believes his artwork mirrors our own understanding, and misunderstanding, of the world around us. Experimentation is crucial to Jacob’s artistic practice and pushing the boundaries of his vision is something he strives for constantly. Jacob also combines media and images, layering content, ideas, textures, and processes. This is another way in which he works to create artwork that acts as a mirror to perception while creating a type of visual poetry. Mandel feels that diversity of experience is crucial to one’s ability to empathize and understand other cultures. The layering of media and images in his work is his way of engaging in social awareness. Creating an immersive experience, walking the line between photography, installation, poetry, and illustration, Jacob illustrates his own meditations on understanding and creating one’s identity and introspective consciousness. This work, though deeply personal and specific to his life, creates an allegory for experience that isn’t tethered to one singular type of experience. Through presenting these ideas, Jacob encourages the viewer to look upon themselves and attempt to understand their own place amongst our shared reality.
Jacob Mandel was born in December 1990. He graduated with honors from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University in 2012 receiving a BFA in Photography and a minor degree in Art History. Since graduating he has planted himself in the Newark arts community and currently works as Gallery Manager at Gallery Aferro in Downtown Newark. Jacob is the co-founder and Administrative Director of Collaborate Audio Lab, a Newark-based music and arts organization producing and collaborating on community-oriented creative content. He also has partnered with other local non-profits like Oculus Art Collaborative to produce exhibitions and events. As a curator, Jacob has done projects for Newark Open Doors, major group and solo exhibitions in Gallery Aferro’s main gallery, and exhibitions outside of Newark including at the Arts Guild of New Jersey in Rahway, NJ. In 2013 Mandel was awarded a scholarship as a mentee of Evonne Davis to attend the Nonprofit Emerging Leaders Certificate Program at The Institute for Ethical Leadership at Rutgers Business School. In 2016 he was nominated for an Ubuntu Award at Newark’s 30 under 30 hosted by Them Cloud Kids. His work in a growing art community like Newark’s has shown him that collaboration, self motivating, and idea sharing are crucial to one’s professional and creative success.