Jennifer Bain

jennifer bain

My studio is situated in the center of a hill garden surrounded by a natural park. I look out on all kinds vegetation and wildlife. Birds of all kinds drink at the fountain, and hummingbirds feed outside my window. Squirrels constantly visit me in hopes of receiving seeds or nuts. This direct and very real communion with life keeps me in touch with my subject matter, and contributes to my reverence for nature. I strive to overcome any enigmatic bias there might be in this subject matter considered “beautiful” by engaging myself with my materials and being fully aware of my process. I make the imagined visible, and through juxtapositions create irony and metaphor.

I consider my current work to be postmodern still life in genre. I have always appreciated the diabolical compositions of still life and the hidden cultural information they contain. I observe that memory and perception function as a series of visual snapshots that I translate using a “mixed bag” of images. My working process, and my attraction to historical still life, derive from my inclination to suspend value judgments, recognizing that reality itself would be incomplete if it were limited to an accepted ideal. The larger works are rendered on Kaolin clay (fresco-like) covered panels whose soft ivory background is strongly reminiscent of parchment and vellum of the past. Intended as a nod of reverence to botanical artists such as Maria Sibylla Merian of the 17th century.

The genesis of each painting differs. I might begin with an idea, specific image, or even simply a color or form (usually from an older work of mine). With this simple beginning I develop the content, paying close attention to shifts in meaning and emotion created by the inclusion and juxtaposition of image and shape. I keep rich sources of imagery to draw from around me, including botanical illustrations, photographs, drawings, graphics, textiles, hand printed papers, and of course my own past works. Also important to this blend are botanical forms I draw and cut out of Mylar (rigid polyester). I use these essentially as reverse stencils on the panels and as “printing plates” for the works on paper. This introduces a strong silhouette to contrast with more detailed and rendered imagery; engaging my long held interest in opposites. I use contrasts and dualities to organize space in compositions, trusting in spontaneous connections to arise in the imagery, and suspending value judgments in favor of receptive participation in the creative process.

This is a synthesis of over two decades of experimentation in mark making,color experimentation, and compositional placement. The magnetism of painting for me is the mystery of creating ideas, mood or context from images. Since I’m fascinated by many different kinds of visual information, my work is a fusion of all that I see.

Jennifer Bain
July, 2011