It’s a real treat to be exhibiting works by Jennifer Peters at Motion Gallery this month. When I sat down to interview Jennifer, I was in awe of the tremendous enthusiasm she had to share her story of trauma and abuse, as if all the pain and heartache she carried was left behind on the canvas, as healing chronicle of her own journey from darkness to light. It is Jennifer’s hope that her work, her raw vulnerability, will incite healing and discussion surrounding prevalent social issues.
A compelling visual and performance artist, Jennifer is highly influenced by performance artist Marina Abramović, expressing her admiration for how much of herself she puts into her work. The courage and all-encompassing dedication to her work inspires Jennifer to continue pushing herself to her own creative, physical and spiritual capacity as an artist. Frida Khalo is another artist she admires for embracing her story, her true identity and strength as a woman, even going so far as to paint her own moustache and her trademark unibrow.
The larger portraits she is displaying this month are strong, vibrant depictions of this journey from shame and bondage to peace, joy and life. “She Has No Eyes” evokes a disturbing tone of pain, a visual depiction of the plight of many women who do not yet possess the eyes to see their true identities as capable, sexual, confidant beings. However, despite this dark quality, there are also vibrant splashes of color, life in beautiful greens, reds and thick, visceral marks. “Magnolia” is in full bloom, embracing her feminine strength, both eyes open, alive and searching within a calming atmosphere of subtle pink tones.
The creative process involves an initial collection of objects and supplies that call out to her, followed by an intense photo shoot in studio where she allows herself uncensored play with her collections under the unforgiving glare of a lens. She will then collect a massive amount of imagery from days spent in studio experimenting with every sort of media available, from automotive paints, household cleaners and decay, to more traditional media such as oil and acrylic latex paints. Her work is woven into the fabric of her life and experience, from documenting raw emotional breakthroughs on her own personal healing journey, to breaking and reaching beneath frozen rivers on her many rambles through the woods in search of that elusive piece for a photo montage – the initial layer of her final pieces. She has found her niche in combining photographic elements with the thick, raw atmosphere of paint and other media. The effect is striking and allows Jennifer the opportunity to incorporate her interests in the human body, raw moments, perspective and sculpture into a single striking piece.
Her artistic passion began as a teen, when she contracted mononucleosis and began obsessively drawing to pass the time. Then, at 16 years of age she was lost in the mountains near Kitimat, BC; persisting through many struggles, including being pursued by a bear. She describes her bare legs and feet as being scratched and caked in blood from her ordeal. Her traumatic story even appeared in the papers and served to be the first piece in her emancipation from shame and abuse.
After many years of brokenness and struggle, with manic bouts of creative prowess, followed by months or years of creative outlets, but virtually no production of any sort of visual art, Jennifer eventually came into her own and discovered how to channel her experience into her work as an artist. She tells us she painted herself in studio and went into the forest naked, bare feet in the snow, to capture the essence of the freedom she had found in embracing her true nature as an artist. In fact, much of her current inspiration stems from frequent forays into the wilderness, where she first began to embrace her creative nature.
She has been finding her own expression through art for years, but began taking it a lot more seriously a few years back, when she first opened her current garage studio in Northwest Calgary. Mentors include Paul Van Ginkle, Robert Sherill and a recent collaboration with the internationally-reknowned artist Eloy Molares. Their current collaboration entitled “Jennifer Sweating” has been exhibited in both Madrid, Spain and the Jonathan Levine Gallery in New York. For the past year she has also been attending drawing and painting classes at Atelier Artista with the talented Brian Batista, among a growing community of artists seeking to further their artistic skills with a more classical approach.
Current and future projects include a series of over twenty Variations on a single portrait, a challenge she has been tackling for many months now, as well as a series entitled “Fractured” on the impact of sexual abuse. This latter series will include a series of portraits, paintings with words and interviews with courageous individuals willing to share their stories for the sake of raising awareness and resources for childhood victims of sexual abuse. A potential project in the next few years would be a larger scale assemblage of a woman’s figure, depicting the current lives of a local Native Population. The project would entail months of interviews with families regarding their personal stories, perspectives and views, after which a donation of an object with history would then be included in the final sculpture. Jennifer will be applying for a grant, in order to realize this potential long-term sculpture, which may take on the form of an installation, depending on what direction and elements affect the final piece.
Jennifer can be reached through her website for further information on her work, purchases, as well as booking studio visits or first rights to future projects. Daily updates of her current work can be followed on either Instagram or Facebook through the following sites.
Instagram @jjpeters_artblog https://www.instagram.com/jjpeters_artblog/