Jen P. Harris is an artist based in Los Angeles. Her paintings and installations have been shown nationally in venues including Leslie Lohman Museum, NYC; CSPS Hall, Cedar Rapids, IA; and Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, Wilmington, DE. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including two Residency Fellowships (2019, 2015) from the Virginia Center for the Arts, a 2012 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Painting, and a 2011 Puffin Foundation Grant. The New York Times and Guernica have featured her work. Harris holds a BA from Yale and an MFA from Queens College, City University of New York.
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About the work
I use the process of painting to think in ways that circumvent familiar frameworks of sense-making, seeking to open imaginative space for remaking and repair. What kinds of worlds can pictorial form reveal and create? How far can it go? My process takes found images and processes them into new forms. This transformation process is embodied in materials – translucent inks, acrylic media and paper – that dictate distinct limits and possibilities. The working method I’ve developed leads me to a place in which reality is a state of bizarre interconnectedness — of humans, critters, stories, rocks, plants, mycelium, optics… Figures mix up with structures to create space. I have come to think of this space as a visual representation of the interdependence of organism and environment. Solid becomes permeable; figure elicits lacuna; a flat surface appears to fold. Pursuing astonishment, I am propelled by a curiosity about how the knowledge that emerges from the process of painting itself might be capable of addressing the political and spiritual crises that engulf our society.
We expect information to lead to understanding. But in the current technological age the proliferation of information, and the way it rapidly mixes with opinions, half-truths, and lies, also breeds confusion and fear. I am most drawn to Jen Harris’s work because I understand it to be elucidating this modern-day conundrum. It reminds me of what Chekov said to be the task of the artist, not to solve anything, but to offer “a correct presentation of the problem.” It is only through the most honest articulation of existence that the greater mystery has its own chance of being revealed.
— Jessica Lott, “The Power of the Puzzle,” exhibition catalog essay, 2015
photo credit: Joshua White, 2018