The symmetry of much of my work might suggest a very mechanical approach using rulers and grids, but although I make preparatory sketches, my drawings are always done freehand. The marks often grow slowly from the center, moving outwards, evolving organically, each according to its own cadence, following an intuitive path. The freehand lines are important to me – I think they have more presence, more soul when they are a little wobbly, and a little bit imperfect. Each mark exists to me as evidence of a distinct and patient process, an incremental growth and an accumulation that requires a minute attention to detail. My process is slow, iterative and can be very meditative. Drawings take days and weeks of multiple sittings to reach completion.
My influences include many minimalist and process artists such as Agnes Martin, Sol Lewitt, Agnes Denes, Mel Bochner, Anne Truitt… I am also inspired by the markmaking in the drawings (more than the paintings) of Van Gogh and Hokusai, the sculpture of Ruth Asawa, the installations of Robert Irwin for their sparseness and challenges to perception. I have also long been influenced by the forms and patterns I find in nature when hiking or backpacking, or the patterns created when weaving or spinning. But lately I have also found myself thinking more about the experiences of time, space, and sound. I am interested in drawing the hum of everyday life…acceleration, speed and movement, and also in how to stop that movement both visually and experientially. The shapes I draw often mirror microscopic or cosmic landscapes, zooming in to suggest cellular structures and then out again, into a sort of vast hyperspace. Because of the multitude of marks, these drawings are never still, though they seek to capture a moment in time, a suspension of sound or thought, a paused chaos. The white field which holds the marks serves to create silence and space, while the simple black and white lines illustrate a detached motion or sound – textural, like static or soundwaves.
I’m also curious about the process of making a drawing - the experience of collecting and planning marks, the repetition of drawing the same shape again and again, and the pause, silence, and peace that comes with that process. Gaston Bachelard said that we rest in the comfort of habit, and there is a definite comfort for me in the repeated line and gesture. I seek to find a quiet and stillness in this work that can be quite challenging to find in the current of a fast moving world, and my hope is that these drawings serve as a similar resting place and pause for my viewer, where one can land for a moment in the lines, experience a slow movement from center outward, and perhaps untangle the chaos of reality to slow down, mark time and be still.
Born in New Jersey in 1971, Jenifer Kent received her BFA from Rutgers University in 1994, and MFA from Mills College in 1999. She currently lives in Northern California and has exhibited in locations there such as the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, The Lab & the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art. Recently, Jenifer’s work was selected for inclusion in the West Marin Journal, New American Paintings and the Drawing Discourse Exhibition of Contemporary Drawing at UNC Asheville. She illustrated Thich Nhat Hanh’s Moments of Mindfulness and has been awarded an Artist in Residence at Kala Art Institute and the Lucid Arts Foundation. Her work is in the Alameda County Arts Collection as well as numerous private collections. Jenifer is represented in San Francisco by the Dolby Chadwick Gallery.
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