Short and Dry Version
Jeffrey Augustine Songco (b. 1983) is a multidisciplinary artist. Born and raised in New Jersey to devout Catholic Filipino immigrants, his artistic identity developed at a young age with training in classical ballet, voice, and musical theater. He holds a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University and an MFA from San Francisco Art Institute. His artwork has been exhibited throughout the USA including the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco and the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts in Grand Rapids. In 2017, he was featured in the publication Queering Contemporary Asian American Art, and he was the Installation Category Juried Award winner at ArtPrize Nine. His writings have appeared in Art21 Blog, Bad at Sports, The Huffington Post, and Hyperallergic. After living in Pittsburgh, Bushwick, and San Francisco, he currently lives and works in Grand Rapids, Michigan and would like to be the US representative to the 2023 Venice Biennale.
Long and Romantic Version
Jeffrey Augustine Songco (b. 1983) is a multidisciplinary artist born, raised, and baptized in New Jersey to devout Catholic Filipino immigrants. His artistic identity started at the age of 6 when he enrolled at the New Jersey School of Ballet. At age 10, he made his professional theater debut as Jerome in South Pacific at Paper Mill Playhouse. He went on to perform in several other productions at Paper Mill Playhouse including the American premiere of Children of Eden and Gypsy, starring Deborah Gibson and Betty Buckley. He was also a performer as a violist with his public school orchestras, and as a singer with the 1996 ACDA National Children's Honor Choir and the 1997 North New Jersey Junior Regional Chorus.
In high school, Jeffrey shifted his focus from the performing arts onto the visual arts. His playbill design for his school's production of Anything Goes was nominated for a Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star award for Achievement in Graphic Design. In 2000, he was enrolled in the summer high school student program at Cooper Union where a field trip to a local gallery introduced him to Felix Gonzalez-Torres's Untitled (Portrait of Ross in L.A.) (1991).
In the fall of 2001, Jeffrey enrolled in Carnegie Mellon University's School of Art with a concentration in Printmaking and a focus on intaglio. Three months later, he was initiated as a brother of the Theta Xi fraternity. During his undergraduate time, Jeffrey began working with self-portrait digital photography, performance art, and a new love of installation art thanks to his frequent visits to the Mattress Factory. His interest in identity and American culture was nurtured by his mentor professor, Ayanah Moor. In 2005, Jeffrey received his BFA with honors and finally came out of the closet. He continued to reside in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he worked as a bartender at the popular downtown gay nightclub before moving to Bushwick, Brooklyn. While in Bushwick, he participated in Bushwick Open Studios, created the Dream Captcha, and tried to make it in NYC.
In 2009, Jeffrey faced the reality of the Great Recession and enrolled in the graduate program at San Francisco Art Institute with a concentration in New Genres and a focus on installation and performance art. His interest in identity and globalization was nurtured by his mentor professor, Allan deSouza. During his graduate time, Jeffrey focused more attention to his writing practice, eventually becoming one of eight international MFA students to write about the graduate art experience for Art21 Blog. In 2011, he received his MFA with honors and entered one of his thesis sculptures, GayGayGay robe, into ArtPrize, the international art competition in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which showed at the Westminster Presbyterian Church organized by Reverend Anne Wierich.
From 2011 to 2016, Jeffrey was the Director of Operations at a technology start-up in San Francisco. During this time, he continued to exhibit his artwork at venues around the country including his first solo exhibition at Steven Wolf Fine Arts in San Francisco, and group exhibitions at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco curated by Glen Helfand, the online-based Center for Art and Thought, Kendall College of Art and Design curated by Michele Bosak and the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts in Grand Rapids curated by Heather Duffy. He became a contributing writer to online publications such as Art Practical, Bad at Sports, The Huffington Post, and Hyperallergic, where he credits his confidence in his writing to Hrag Vartanian. Jeffrey was also nominated for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's SECA Art Award.
Following his fourth ArtPrize in 2016, Jeffrey moved to Grand Rapids. One month later, he went to a local holiday artist market and saw a beautiful ceramic spoon rest that he desperately needed for his new kitchen. Upon checkout, he looked up and met Jeff Ham of Jeff Ham Ceramics, the potter who created the spoon rest. Jeff and Jeffrey are now living happily ever after with their rescue silver pitbull, Mellon. In 2017, Jeffrey was featured in the publication Queering Contemporary Asian American Art, returned to the stage as Paul in Circle Theatre's production of A Chorus Line, and was the Installation Category Juried Award winner at ArtPrize Nine with venue organization by Richard App. His dreams of exhibiting in NYC and being on Broadway both came true in March 2018 with the SPRING/BREAK Art Show event in Times Square with room curation by Marly Hammer + John Richey. While sitting at home and scrolling through Instagram, Jeffrey jumped up and screamed in excitement when he saw that Klaus Biesenbach had shared a photo of Jeffrey's GayGayGay robe on his personal Instagram feed. Jeff and Jeffrey cried happy tears for a few minutes.
Jeffrey currently lives and works in Grand Rapids and would very much like to be the US representative to the 2023 Venice Biennale.