January 27, 2011

Jenine Bressner on Houston Visit

Mixed-media artist, Jenine Bressner, opens up and writes about her experiences while visiting Houston to install her first solo show at a major institution.  Inverted Harmony: A Handmande Environment by Jenine Bressner, is on view in our Small Gallery through March 13, 2011.

Detail of Jenine Bressner’s current installation at HCCC.
Handmade glass and lasercut, hand-sewn fabrics.
Photo courtesy of the artist.

Houston, Texas has surpassed my expectations by light years. I worked all week to install Inverted Harmony: A Handmande Environment by Jenine Bressner at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. In my mind, the working title is, “Why Are We Fighting When We're on the Same Team?” This installation is the biggest thing that I have ever made, aside from building rooms in warehouses.

The support from HCCC has been so incredibly thorough and generous. I have to especially thank Anna Walker, curatorial fellow at HCCC, for EVERYTHING! I am ineffably grateful to Anna, Randall Dorn, and Ashley Powell for their invaluable help and to Kerry Inman and Nyala Wright for their generous hospitality.

Jenine Bressner during installation – “As I hung plant forms,
I rearranged
the platforms of the scaffold to allow the pieces
to hang fully extended.”
Photo courtesy of the artist.

“Here, Anna Walker (r) and Ashley Powell (l) prepare strands of
glass rain
before I hang them.” – Jenine Bressner. Photo courtesy of the artist.

“I spent months lampworking Pyrex to make lots of glass rain drops.
 It felt like it took
forever to tie them all!  Thanks to Dave Olsen for 
teaching me how to make a fisherman's
knot, and for being so helpful to me.” 
– Jenine Bressner. Photo courtesy of the artist.

This is the text that accompanies my installation:
The idea of "Man versus Nature" fails to acknowledge that humans are animals. Though we exist in the context of nature, we are distinct from other fauna in many obvious ways. We try to control nearly every other type of living thing around us, from pests to pets. In relating to everything only as something we can manipulate, we fail to view and understand the rest of life with true empathy.

Our impact on the natural world is currently disruptive and unbalancing in unprecedented ways. We are turning the world upside-down, but I believe in the resiliency of nature--sans humans. If plants can grow through from underneath pavement, nature can eventually resolve much of the damage for which we have been responsible.

The most inspiring works I've witnessed have all been naturally occurring ones. I aim to make things that reflect my respect and awe for the natural world, my quiet sadness for our uncertain future, and the paradox of humans trying to control and recreate nature itself in artwork that can only strive to be as beautiful as authentic life.
The screening of Handmade Nation at Lawndale Art Center last weekend was packed beyond capacity, with people lining the walls and sitting on the floors.  225 people attended the film, and 100 came to my artist talk! It was a lot of fun to meet everybody and talk with folks, so thank you if you were able to be there!  Also, the band What Cheer Brigade from Providence (the band in the bookbinding scene in Handmade Nation) will be playing at Super Happy Fun Land on March 10th!

Jenine Bressner while teaching the Ruffled Accessories workshop at

Sew Crafty Houston.  Photo courtesy of Sew Crafty Houston.

Thanks also to Sarah Gabbart and Sew Crafty Houston for hosting my workshop on sewing ruffled textile forms and accessories, and thanks to everyone in the class!  Sarah, you're a gem!

--Jenine Bressner

For more information, visit Jenine’s…

1 comment:

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