Bedford Artist Jeffrey Terreson Embraces Collaboration in His Art

Photos Courtesy of Jeffrey Terreson

Bedford-based artist Jeffrey Terreson brings a collaborative take to his creative process to create a lasting impact for all.

Atlantic, 50″× 50″ oils on wood panel, 2019.

Art is often a solitary act — a reality to which Bedford-based painter Jeffrey Terreson is no stranger. The pandemic has made the art world even more isolating than it is normally; with live gallery shows mostly on hiatus, many artists, Terreson included, have taken to social media to showcase their work.

While Instagram is an excellent tool, Terreson’s work (you can find him @jeffreyterreson) is meant to be immersive. Mostly on large canvases, some spanning 9′×9′, with heavy strokes and layers of oil paint that create a textured surface, his work evokes a certain pondering, one deeply introspective but best-suited to intellectual discussion. “My work went from having representational elements to having representational narratives,” Terreson says. “When I’m painting a horse, no matter how abstract I do it, I’m still happily confined to a horse.”

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Jeffrey Terreson speaking with gallery attendees during a recent exhibition.

However, in a piece like Atlantic, with a variety of colors and textures, what’s represented might be less obvious at first glance. While interacting with the work, a viewer is able to have an experience with it, whether internally or conversationally. Eventually, they may well deduce the painting’s true meaning: pollution and its impact on ocean life. Or they might not. The point seems to remain rooted in conversation and discovery.

This is why Terreson insists on making his commissioned work collaborative.

“Art is not just about beauty but about what comes after,” Terreson says. “I remember all the paintings my father had. Art enriches a space with culture and an aesthetic that calls for more of it in the future.” But no matter how enriching art can be, Terreson also understands that purchasing artwork is an investment. And while he’s never had an unhappy customer (a roster that includes Ralph Lauren, IBM, the UN, NBC, as well as his collaborative residential work), he wants the finished product to leave a lasting impact.

“It’s always about the art before it’s about the artist,” Terreson says. “Since I grew up in Westchester, my work resonates with people here because it represents them, too.” That through-line is a driving factor in much of his commissioned work: the relationship between art and viewer. In accessing what a client wants from a piece, whether from what other work of his they enjoy or a certain theme or emotion they want to convey, Terreson fuses their desires with his own imagination and creativity.

Finding inspiration from his clientele and the work in front of him, Terreson’s art seems to lead him on a journey throughout the process. From the first idea to each layer of paint and every incorporated color, each piece, while clearly his, stands alone in its uniqueness. “I’ve always been a conduit for imagination,” Terreson says. “I don’t think I’ll ever run out of ideas.”

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Liana DeMasi is a fiction writer and freelance journalist living in Brooklyn, with bylines in The Boston Globe, i-D Magazine, Poynter, Atmos, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram @lianademasi.

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