Commencement 2022: Grad’s giant ‘hugging urns’ are a tribute to Earlham’s trans community

JB Jarvi-Beamer was an intern at a community art studio in Cincinnati, Ohio, when he first heard about Earlham College.

“My mentors told me I should come here, and I applied because I trusted them,” said Jarvi-Beamer, a studio art major with a concentration in ceramics, metals and 3D fabrication.

Jarvi-Beamer will graduate with the Class of 2022 on Saturday, May 21. Commencement begins at 2:30 p.m. at Chase Stage, weather permitting. Of the 230 graduates earning degrees, 202 come from the undergraduate college, 15 are from Earlham School of Religion and 13 from the Graduate Programs in Education.

“I wanted to go to a small school because I didn’t want to be a number,” he said. “I wanted to be somewhere where people really care about each other, a place where community is important. Earlham turned out to be what I wanted and more.”

What Jarvi-Beamer meant by more can be found etched into the porcelain of the four sculptures he created for his senior art project. He calls them hugging urns, and each one is dedicated to someone who supported his transition to becoming a transgender man. One is for himself; two are for Mateo and Prinshu, his closest friends; and the fourth is for all three of them. The urn titled Prinshu was selected as the 2022 Library Senior Art Purchase Prize and is on permanent art display in Lilly Library.

“I came to terms with transitioning during my time here,” he said. “Hugging urns are larger sculptures that are meant to be hugged by the trans individual and their loved ones. The sculptures talk about what makes the trans community at Earlham feel powerful and comfortable.”

“It’s been amazing here and it’s happened very quickly,” Jarvi-Beamer said. “I remember someone saying within my first three days on campus that you are going to blink and it’s going to be four years. I’ve tried not to keep thinking about it, but it really is true.”

A true liberal arts experience

Jarvi-Beamer comes from a family of artists on his mother’s side. His grandmother was a batik artist and his mother’s medium of choice is drawing. After being exposed to a number of different art forms, he discovered a passion for ceramic pottery.

“I think of it as a meditation,” he said. “Once you’ve done a skill like throwing for so long, I’ve realized that it’s allowed me to control my body and my spatial awareness so much.”

“I’m so glad Earlham is a liberal arts college. I could never have gone somewhere as a 17-year-old and knew what I wanted to do right away. I needed to figure it out for myself.”

JB Jarvi-Beamer

Despite his long-held love for art, Jarvi-Beamer still believed he would major in something else at Earlham. He considered the pre-engineering program and even took courses in the English department before declaring art as his major.

“I’m so glad Earlham is a liberal arts college,” he said. “I could never have gone somewhere as a 17-year-old and knew what I wanted to do right away. I needed to figure it out for myself.

“Judy Wojcik in the art department has been such a great mentor for me,” he said. “I wanted to have my senior art show and do more art here. I now know this is something I want to do for the rest of my life.” Wojcik teaches ceramics at Earlham.

Next stop: Minneapolis

Earlham’s Epic Advantage program, which offers up to $5,000 for every student to complete internships, research experiences and other community-based projects, helped Jarvi-Beamer further refine his pursuits. In the winter break of his senior year, he traveled to Portland, Oregon, and was an apprentice with potter Adrienne Eliades.

“My apprenticeship was such a great experience,” he said. “I used it to get to know the business side of becoming a studio potter.”

Following graduation, Jarvi-Beamer expects to take the next steps toward achieving that goal by opening a pottery studio at a Minneapolis art gallery.

“I think people should come here to find themselves and find their medium, to try to figure out what they want to do with their lives,” he said. “This community is quite special and one of the best communities I’ve ever been part of.”

Media contact

Brian Zimmerman
Director of media relations

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 765.983.1256

We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.
We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.