Wk 12 – Artist Conversation – Jennifer Chen

Exhibition: Succession
Media: Epson printer, paper, ink, computer, Photoshop, screenprinting tools, camera
Gallery: Max L. Gatov Gallery West
Website: no website
Instagram: no Instagram

About the Artist:
Jennifer Chen is in her final year in the BFA Printmaking program at CSULB. Chen earned her undergraduate degree in biology. She changed her major in order to share her perspective with people in the arts and explore her artistic passion. She has worked for companies big and small that strive to help people that usually revolve around health. Chen is a woman if two main interests: biology and art. She combines these interests in her educational, artistic, and lifestyle goals and actions. Her other interests are wide ranging and she did not further elaborate on that. Each of Chen’s pieces is different, just like she is unique and different from the people around her. I know she and her work stand out in the printmaking studio because I work there. She is diligent and focused, but also social and friendly to the people in the studio. She has done so well in the program that she and another student will be teaching a beginning print course next semester at CSULB; for that I am extremely proud of her.

Content Analysis:
Chen’s body of work shown in Succession is a merging of science and art. The reason she chose “Succession” as the title of the show is because the definition of the word works as a definition for what the show represents: The effects of a disturbance in the landscape. In the case of Chen’s show, urban scape is the disturbance to the natural landscape.

In this show, Chen shows the microscopic and macroscopic effects that urban scape has inflicted upon the natural world. The microscopic representation is found in close-up photos of tree bark in various types of trees, many of which are non-native. In this tree bark there are often carvings and embellishments made by humans as a result of urban scape. The macroscopic representation is found in wide-area Google Earth views of different urban locations. Each image is different and the areas where nature shows up are highlighted apart from the buildings that have taken over. One of the close-ups of the bark is featured from a tree on the CSULB campus, which I find interesting and creative. It makes me wonder if each tree is a representation of a part of Chen’s life.

Formal Analysis:
Chen’s artistic process begins with finding imagery. She either takes the photos of the trees herself or finds screen captures on Google Earth of locations she would like to represent in her art pieces. After she has located or taken sufficient images, she works with them in photoshop to create the layering she needs in order to print properly. From there she uses the large Epson printer to print out the image. Afterward she uses a silkscreen, with its tools and inks to layer the different inks on layer by layer, working in quadrants on each sheet of paper because her pieces are so large. She makes the pieces large to have a higher impact, magnifying what people overlook in everyday life, and to fill up space on the gallery walls.

In order to give the map view pieces a 3D look, she adds gloss as the final coat in certain areas of the works. In these works, she plays with the idea of painting and photography. She does not claim to be a photographer and simply uses the camera as a tool to get her idea documented and transferred to the paper. Each of these pieces can take up to a week to complete because most of them are so massive.

My Experience:
I enjoy seeing the accumulation of the work Chen has been working on during the semester. I feel that the theme of her show is a good representation of her interests in health, science, and the arts. I do not feel a huge emotional draw to the work, but more of a pull of facts being laid before me. The fact is that urban life has ruined the natural landscape, but has also added to it. Ruined it in the way that nature is seen less and less in urban scape, but beautiful in that the carvings and markings seen in the trees we normally pass by art works of art in and of themselves. This depiction of urban scape is factual and opposite like the two sides of a coin. I like that Chen does not try to create an emotional pull and I feel it fits her personality, from what I’ve observed, quite well. Overall I enjoyed the show and hearing Chen talk about it and I hope that enough students enroll in her course to get her teaching/artistic career started.

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