Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Jennifer Danos - Installation

Untitled (On the Ideology of Public Things 1), 2010
Jennifer Danos

Name: Jennifer Danos
City/State: Minneapolis, MN
Website: profile:

Jennifer Danos was born in 1975 in Chicago and studied at both the Rhode Island School of Design (BFA 1997) and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (MFA 2004). She has been exhibiting her work locally at venues like the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Rochester Art Center, and Franklin Art Works, nationally at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs and the Peeler Art Center in Indiana, and internationally at Galerie Analix Forever in Switzerland. Jennifer is the recipient of a Jerome Study & Travel Grant (2011), a McKnight Visual Arts Fellowship (2008) and a Minnesota Artist’s Initiative Grant (2008). She currently lives and works in Minneapolis where she teaches in the Sculpture Department at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

Untitled (Poured Concrete 6), 2007

Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?

I just finished a project at the MAEP galleries at the MIA with Natasha Pestich and Marcus Young. This whole project was much different than past exhibitions from start to finish... Natasha, Marcus and I worked on our proposal for the MAEP for almost a year and a half. We knew that we had a lot of overlapping interests and that we were fans of each other's work, but we had to really hone in on what our common interests were to address for the project, and built into that was why the MAEP galleries (and why the MIA) for our collaboration (and by collaboration I mean conceptually - we each worked on our own pieces for the show). We all came at the idea of "Semblances" (the concept we were working under and the title of the show) in completely different ways since our practices are so varied, but we worked hard throughout the year of planning to make sure that we kept the cohesion and the main focus in mind to guide our decisions. So the intense way that our projects were playing off of each other required negotiating so many variables (including ourselves), and that was new for me.

Now that we've finished that project, I'm starting new research... still related to my ongoing ideas and questions (see below), but looking for new ways to think about them and manifest them... maybe (hopefully) make some new discoveries??? We'll see what happens!

Untitled (Poured Concrete 4) & Untitled (Glorified Hallways 1), 2007

"What is Art?" is certainly too big of a question to ask here, but what do you hope your audience takes away from your art? What statement do you hope to make?

Hm, that is a big question - I'm going to have to refer to my statement since it's the latest version of what I've been thinking about those questions ( I always feel my statement needs to be changed/refined, but this is where it's at right now):

My sculptural interventions exploit the human instinct to filter experience. Our constructed environment contains myriad cues that consciously and subconsciously affect how we think about, feel about, and interact with a given site. A person enters a space and intuitively chooses which details to interact with or neglect. Intuition is not a mysterious sense, but a learned behavior through repeated experiences. I am interested in this cognitive process and finding ways to offer opportunities to more intentionally shape our intuitive response, thus increasing our sensitivity when encountering an environment.

By calling attention to material qualities that are likely to be missed through this filtering, my work subverts the expectedness of private and public spaces. Entering my installation, one is confronted with elements that are familiar, but most likely outside of typical notice: those things in the periphery that one is conditioned to look past when entering a particular environment. I take advantage of architectural details that are physically evidenced through different activities: from construction, to human use (proper and improper), to care and repair. Or sometimes these details are the product of chance. Each artwork is made for a specific space, addressing the subtle features in the physical site. For example, I have re-created debris that accumulates on windowsills, re-imagined patterns made in the process of constructing building surfaces, and re-presented throw-away objects left behind in a given space.

I am concerned with how these subtle cues can aid in, disrupt, or hopefully form our instinctive decision-making. In addition to all of the effects of the physical cues, we bring our own personal history to the space, which further complicates our interpretations and subsequent behavior because of our individually biased expectations and assumptions. This is where the everyday collides with the aesthetic experience. These interventions serve as metaphors for larger experiences concerning the blurred boundary between seemingly incongruent categories: natural and artificial, accidental and intentional, real and perceived. The demarcation between elements, such as between objects and surfaces, or features that “belong” and do not belong, becomes flexible, malleable, un-fixed from traditional rules. Ultimately, I want to engage the conscious and subconscious nature of observation to encourage individuals to actively see each space by questioning the constructed intentions of the space and reconsidering habits and definitions.

Untitled (Architectonic Obtrusion 1), 2008

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?

Well, two things. The first was early in my career as an undergrad. My professor at the time, David Frazer, told me that when he graduated college he did what he needed to do to support his studio practice by seeking out a job that would pay the bills and also afford him time to think about his work while on the job - and not have to take his job home with him mentally or otherwise.

He said he worked as a truck driver for the first few years out of college and the whole thing made sense to me - it freed me up from the stigma attached to not getting a job "in your field" right out of college, and it made the art practice the priority. Of course, over time, I began to find work in my field (teaching at MCAD, for example), but that came naturally and when I was ready.

The second thing came much later and came as a surprise when I took my class to see a lecture at MCAD by comic artist, Kim Deitch (I believe it was in 2006). Kim said that he got in a rut with his artwork and felt like he wasn't making anything interesting. It dawned on him that he couldn't make interesting art if he wasn't an interesting person having interesting experiences. So he set off on some travels and changed the way he lived. I absolutely agree with what Kim said, but had never been able to put my finger on it, much less articulate it - so I try to pass that on to my students semester after semester (and keep it in mind in my own studio).

Tell me about your work space and your creative process.

My work space is my home office and whatever site I'm working at for the project. I don't have a studio (but am fortunate to have MCAD to fabricate things as needed). I do a lot of research on-site (photos, measurements, observing), reading about relevant ideas/artists, thinking, note-taking, thinking, re-thinking... and then most of the work happens on-site. It's hard for me to speculate on how something is going to look and feel until it's actually installed (or at least some test version is there), so it's often a mad rush at the end.

Untitled (Wood 2), 2008

Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy?

Natasha Pestich (working on website now!)
Marcus Young
Ruben Nusz
John Fleischer
Scott Nedrelow
Bruce Tapola
Luke Aleckson
Scott Stulen
Chris Larson
Margaret Pezalla
Kate Casanova
Andy DuCett
Aaron van Dyke
Ute Bertog
Jan Estep

Hmmm, there are so many, I'm sure I'm missing a few...

If I were to follow you around to see art in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?

Walker Art Center
Rochester Art Center
Minnesota Institute of Arts & MAEP Galleries
Dressing Room
Franklin Art Works
Soap Factory
Location Books

Where do you go online for good art resources, whether to find a new artist, or to see what is going on in the art world locally and otherwise?

e-flux (mailing list):
re-title (mailing list):
art agenda (mailing list):

Do you have any exhibits to promote in the near future?
I am currently showing in the MIA's MAEP gallery...

"Semblances" Jennifer Danos, Natasha Pestich and Marcus Young
MAEP galleries at the MIA
Artist Talk - Thursday 11/17/2011 - 7pm in the Gallery
The show runs through 1/1/2012

February 2012 Johnson Gallery, Bethel University. St Paul, MN.
March 2012 Seerveld Gallery, Trinity College. Palos Heights, IL.
July, 2012 Spaces Gallery. Cleveland, OH.

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