Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Jen Dolen - Photographer

Jen Dolen

Name:  Jen Dolen
City/State: St. Paul, MN
Email: jedolen at gmail.com
Website: http://365plusphotos.blogspot.com/ and mnartists.org/Jen_Dolen
Facebook page: Jen Dolen
Etsy Page: https://www.etsy.com/shop/AlteredEsthetics
(Ae is an arts organization and artists may choose to sell their work through Ae's site if they don't want to maintain their own)
Instagram: JenDolen

Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?
I've got a lot on my plate right now (f/t job, p/t job, p/t grad school, volunteer), so making art is not at the top but it's always on my mind. 

Superficially, I'm consistently interested in imagery that uses lines as a strong visual component. Sometimes it's really just the visual features of an image that grab me, rather than underlying content... so that's something I try to work on, adding or finding more layers of meaning. 

In recent years I've enjoyed working with TTV (Through The Viewfinder) photography, which uses a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera to shoot through the viewfinder of a film TLR (Twin Lens Reflex) camera. It creates a nostalgic effect by showing the focusing screen of the film camera, including imperfections on that screen. That kind of look is very effective for emphasizing the mood of a strong environmental space such as the north woods. I have one of those images on view at Glam Doll Donuts this September, and there are more on my 365plusphotos.blogspot.com page.  

I've paid more attention to portraits in the last few years, as well; my family has grown with my role as a bonus parent every other weekend, so I think a lot about how to photograph my boyfriend and his son in meaningful ways. Some say that photographs are more interesting when people are in them. I don't think that's an absolute rule, but I am enjoying framing this child as he grows, and searching for meaningful moments in the time we have with him. He gave me the ultimate compliment a few years ago (age 4) when he watched me compose a photograph. He looked at it and then said, "Jen, you take better pictures than my mom."

How did you decide to become an artist?

Working in the darkroom is a magical place. I got hooked in high school, but didn't grow to really love image-making and visual arts until college. I was about to finish undergrad as a psych major/art minor, and was looking at social psych PhD programs but realized that I didn't want to leave the creative environment. Leaving that image-making behind felt like a bleak thing to do. Around that time, a friend of mine was an art major and I was envious... I told him he was lucky. Then I thought, "why don't I just do that?"

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
Talking to my adviser in college (I upped art to a major and stayed on to complete the BFA), I was working on a mundane sort of project, but had been interested by it. Someone had told me that *everybody* did that kind of project, so I was feeling down about it. He looked at me and said, "Well, have you done it before?" 

Many artists struggle to find ways to sell their art.  How do you sell your work?  How do you market yourself?
I sold at an art fair once, but haven't found the energy and time to do that consistently. Social media is fun, but I don't try to market myself very hard. I've sold a few pieces through gallery shows in the past, but selling art isn't a driving force for me. I'm more interested in the creative process, working through ideas, making it work, and sharing (I love Instagram). But, I admire those who consistently market their own work, whether it's their main job or not.

Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy?
Since I've volunteered at several art organizations around town and am on the board of Ae, I regularly see a lot of art from very talented local people, but I really enjoy having the pleasure of knowing some great artists personally. Most of these people are photographers, but there are a few painters and other visual artists (two of these folks are technically in Wisconsin): 

If I were to follow you around to see art in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?
I used to give tours at the Walker and the Garden tours were my favorite, so the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is high on the list. http://www.walkerart.org/garden/
I haven't been there in a while, but the Russian Art Museum is really excellent, as well. http://tmora.org/

Nothing beats the local northern art, along the north shore... Grand Marais is a special place. http://www.visitcookcounty.com/communities/grand-marais/

Altered Esthetics' also has a wonderful solo artist program with new solo art shows installed monthly at Nomad World Pub on the West Bank.

In addition to www.Local-Artist-Interviews.com, 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?
I am biased, because I am an editorial assistant for the magazine Public Art Review, but PAR's website (under the umbrella of Forecast Public Art, which is the non-profit that publishes the magazine) is great! www.forecastpublicart.org 

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

I currently have four photos up in Glam Doll Donuts with Altered Esthetics' photography themed show ::shutter:: until the end of September. They are a mix of images, including one TTV photograph looking out from the dock at my family's cabin; that place was in the family for decades and we just sold it, so that's very personal. There's also a panning slow shutter speed photo and two shots working with digital image manipulation. 

In October, some of my other work will be part of Ae's West Bank Art Crawl. The crawl combines a group show and a solo show spanning 4 different venues (Brian Coyle Center, 7west, Acadia Cafe, and Nomad World Pub) on the West Bank in Minneapolis. Saturday, October 4 from 1-4pm, you can ride your bike for the West Bank Business Association's West Bank Ride, and check out these sites along the way! Ae is having an after party at the Nomad that evening, too. 

The work I have in the crawl is part of the group exhibition with the Light Topics theme. For me, that theme is more ethereal and visually stimulating than conceptual, so my images respond to the theme very literally. I have a few pieces there that are colorful abstract light compositions as well as an abstract macro image. Ae may install a time lapse video I made that illustrates a clover plant dancing with the sunlight, but that depends upon monitor availability.

(Include dimensions and year made if applicable)
Image List:
1. 30 Days of Biking, Day 27, April 2013 - Digital Photograph
2. Dreaming of Summer, Winter 2013 - Digital Photograph
3. Bench on the Dock, Last Weekend at the Cabin, 2012 - TTV photography
4. Oliver Color Field (2013) - Photograph
5. Zoey's Whiskers (2014) - Photograph
6. Light Composition II (pale), or, Subtlety (2010) - Photograph
7. Image of artist

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