Jennifer Vanderpool revels in the contradictions of her environment and upbringing. Raised in the time when little girls were made of “sugar, spice, and all things nice,” she rejected the mythology of the domestic goddess and began her work by questioning sweetness in all its forms, but especially as applied to women and their roles as both consumer and consumed.
In recent years her enquiries have expanded to encompass distinctions of natural and artificial. Her Southern California-based studio places her in the production center for the manufactured dreams of popular culture, where even ‘reality’ is a fiction. In this setting, her meandering installations of improbable ‘flowers,’ ‘birds’ and ‘desserts’ seem just an escalation of the prevalent aesthetic, carried to excess. Except, the relentless Technicolor, the cloying, dripping plastics begin to seem less like fairyland and more like a laboratory of dysfunctional nature. Contrary to first impressions, Vanderpool is an artist of nuance, walking the fine line between attraction and repulsion and charting the exact point where indulgence tips into decadence.
In her latest work, Vanderpool further celebrates and undermines the world of popular culture but with an emphasis on the social and political. Working within institutional collections, Vanderpool teases out underlying suppositions and makes manifest the hidden realities contained in the objects, by engaging the collection with her own practice. Installations are combined with performance and media.
Vanderpool has an impressive record of extensive international exhibition.
In Bogotá her work has been featured in exhibitions at Galería Sextante and Centro Colombo Americano and in Mexico City at Nina Menocal Gallery. Some venues where Vanderpool exhibited her work in Sweden include the Kalmar Konstmuseum, Designarkivet, Virserums Konsthall, and NEON. She also has exhibited at Stenersenmuseet in Oslo, RACA in Copenhagen, and Duna Galéria in Budapest. Installations exhibited in select museums and galleries in the United Stated include the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Monica Museum of Art, Riverside Art Museum, Claremont Graduate University, Indiana University Art Museum, Living Arts of Tulsa, Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, Koplin del Rio Gallery in Culver City, Southfirst in Brooklyn, Urban Culture Projects in Kansas City, and Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown. Recently, Vanderpool was the artist-in-residence at the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory, Simferopol, Ukraine, and Pitzer College, Claremont, California.
Vanderpool has been awarded grants from the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Danish Arts Council, Swedish Arts Council, Malmö Stad, and also received project funding from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Her work has been written about in The New York Times, Sculpture, Art Papers, Artweek, Art Ltd., Angeleno, Atlanta Journal Constitution, The Houston Chronicle, Kansas City Star,Tulsa World, Dagens Nyheter, Politiken, El Universal, and El Tiempo, as well as numerous other national and international newspapers and magazines.
Her social practice workshops include collaborations with institutions in California including the University of California at Santa Barbara and community of Isla Vista, El Puente Juvenile Court Community School and Explore Ecology in Santa Barbara, Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, Mount St. Mary’s College in Los Angeles, and Antelope Valley College in Lancaster. Elsewhere she has worked on social practice projects with Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts and Pittsburg State University in Kansas as well as internationally in Csopak, Hungary at the Hungarian Multicultural Center and in Öland, Sweden at Öland Folkskolan. The University of California at Santa Barbara and community of Isla Vista project was the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Challenge America Grant.
In addition to studio courses, Vanderpool taught the history and philosophy of the image integrated with praxis seminars at the University of California at Santa Barbara and University of California at Los Angeles. She also taught contemporary art at Otis College of Art and Design. She has been visiting artist faculty at international institutions including Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia and Ölands Konst Skolan in Öland, Sweden.
Vanderpool holds an Independent, Interdisciplinary Ph.D. from the University of California Regents in the fields of Comparative Literature, Interdisciplinary Humanities, and Film and Media Studies. Her MFA in Spatial Studies and Critical Theory & Integrative Studies is from the University of California at Santa Barbara, where she was a UC Regents Fellow. She also holds an MA in Modern Art and Architecture from Emory University, and an MA in Community Art Intervention from The Ohio State University. Her BA in History, with emphases in Urban Studies and Art History, is from Wittenberg University.