today i am very excited to introduce a new series on the isavirtue blog! entitled "q & art," the series will feature interviews with amazing contemporary artists. today i am featuring jen mann. jen has created beautiful series of paintings portraying an interconnectedness between women and nature. jen is also currently being featured in the lowercase gallery - i encourage you to go check it out! then tell me your thoughts on her work in the comments below!
q | when did you first begin creating artwork? (not as a child, but with the intention that it could act as a career)artist jen mann: i don't entirely know. i remember at an early age wanting to become an artist, but i don't really know when my work went from studying art, to that of a career as an artist. i studied art at a high school which was specialized for art, and then proceeded to university, with the same intent of becoming an artist... i would definitely say that i would pinpoint my production of art after university, as a full fledged decision of my art being my main focus and career, but i cant say when i first began creating work with the intention of being a professional artist.. the lines are blurred. my fera collection of paintings however (2009-after graduating with a bfa), are my first works that i felt truly captured my intent.
q | while completing your bachelor of fine arts, you concentrated on printmaking. you now create oil paintings - what led to the the change in media? do you anticipate experimenting with other forms of art-making in the future?
jm | i think after making multiples for a certain length of time... and also in a school environment, one full of criticism and expectations... i was quite ready to do something more immediate, more passionate and expressive. i felt the time intensive, and laborious process of printmaking was, in short, under appreciated, not understood, and overwhelming for me after graduation. i did not have a print shop readily available and no presses at my disposal either, and after graduating i was home sick for the familiar feel of drawing directly onto a surface. i had never painted in oil before, but from my experience with printmaking, i loved the texture of oil based inks, and i found the medium familiar and friendly. i have experimented with so many different mediums, and enjoyed them all. i am currently planning some sculptures which i have planned for my gathering of the psyche collection.
q | why did you choose a traditional and difficult medium such as oil paints? in what ways does this medium work for you and your artwork?
jm: i probably chose it for its honesty and authenticity. i love the realness of a painted canvas, there is no questioning what it is. oil painting just fit, and as i continue with it, i learn a lot about my own style and techniques.
q | each of your series are so concise and focused in both theme and mood. how important is it to you to have a well curated and complimentary collection?
jm | i like organization. maybe because i am a virgo, who knows, but organizing my thoughts and visions into thematic and concise collections is natural for me, and beneficial in creating a body of work that flows - like a train of thought. it keeps my mind free and uncluttered. people can visually sink into the collection, like a world created for them to slowly unravel ideas, and work out meanings, whether they are my meanings, or their own.
jm | humans are animals, and as animals we are born of nature. "the wild" is like a nostalgic past i never knew. i love fantastical stories of feral children raised by wolves, and the magic of the woods. i am enchanted by this idea. there are so many things we truly don't understand, and that is beautiful. i love the subconscious mind - how it reveals things about ourselves. for me my youth was full of forest adventures with my brother, climbing trees, catching bugs, toads, and crayfish... watching deer pass through my backyard, foxes, coyotes, and rabbits. something about youth is defining, and has, certainly for me, created this longing for a connection with the wilder side of myself. someone free. my subconscious plays out this imagery, as i work through things in my own life.
q | have you received any skepticism about showings of your work because of the nudity and/or eerie imagery? (don't get me wrong - those are some of my favourite aspects!)
jm | i think nudity, and eerie-ness or oddity, is fairly accepted in the art world, though maybe not so much by elderly relatives hahah.
q | where do you find your inspiration?
jm | dreams, life, and the forest i find myself so often watching or traversing through. i think mostly from myself, and my own wanderings and explorations into life.
q | it seems you have completed a number works in the past year - any particular reason for the heightened output?
jm | about a year ago i re-did my studio, creating a space that is more conducive to working. i think this has helped me a lot. i think i have also been just really inspired and excited about what i am doing.
q | how are your own opinions about feminism and the female body expressed within your work?
jm | there are a lot of feminine issues woven into my work, probably because naturally as a female i deal with these issues personally, and the deep rooted ideas about what is beautiful and feminine are so rooted in our culture we don't even notice it as strange or against nature. my "toxic love" series probably deals with these issues the most, looking at our 'toxic love' of beauty, and its crippling effect on our self confidence, and sense of self, as someone more than just our outward appearance.