Jen Everett: The States Project: Missouri
I first met Jen Everett in 2015 when we had the good luck of sitting next to each other at a Carrie Mae Weems lecture at Washington University in St. Louis. We immediately struck up a conversation and quickly became good friends and colleagues. Jen’s work poignantly explores issues of identity, race, and culture through direct photography and photographic sculpture. Over the past several years, she has made several bodies of work, including Inimitable Blackness, a series of portrait based collages that seek to explore Blackness and defy the gaze that others use to view and/or appropriate Black culture; A Blues for St. Louis, an ongoing series culled from news articles, headlines, conversations, images and other information that stems from the grief of living in traumatic times of state-sanctioned violence and hashtag death rosters; and Sons of Rest, an ongoing series that documents the black, queer community of Saint Louis, Missouri, named for a pavilion in South Saint Louis’ Tower Grove Park.
I was immediately inspired by Jen’s work and remain even more inspired by who she is as a person and a fellow artist. In our current difficult political and social climate, Jen’s work is needed even more now than ever before. With that, I introduce Jen Everett.
Jen Everett is a photo based artist working at the intersection of photography and sculpture. She was born in Detroit, Michigan and currently lives and works in Saint Louis, Missouri. She is interested in visual complexity, and her recent work engages themes of blackness, blues sensibility and most recently her family’s archive of photographs and films. Jen is compelled to make work that centers narratives that are historically suppressed or underrepresented.
Her work has been published in Transition and SPOOK magazines. She was one of 10 semifinalists for the Contemporary Art Museum’s St. Louis’ Great Rivers Biennial and recently presented her work on a panel at the Saint Louis Art Museum in conjunction with Women’s History Month. Her work has been exhibited locally and nationally, and Jen has been an artist in residence at the Vermont Studio Center and the Atlantic Center for the Arts.
Inimitable Blackness is an ongoing personal project that I began in 2014. I initially envisioned the work as a way to examine the multiplicity of black identity. Historically, there is an insidious tendency to quantify blackness using a lens that often includes disproportionately negative stereotypical tropes. Blackness is truly amorphous and there are many definitions in this country and beyond it.
Through a series of portrait based, three-dimensional works I sought to explore blackness and defy a reductive gaze by fragmenting and complicating the picture plane. Through process, these works evolved from being anchored to the wall to coming off of it, blurring the line between photographic document and sculpture. Entering these images after making them and viewing from multiple perspectives forced me to repeatedly consider the visual complexity of each subject. Blackness is constructed, constantly in flux, and requires multiple readings. Materially, the building of the sculptural components of this work are a direct reflection of my study of architecture and the meticulous model making that was integral in that training.
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Jen Everett: The States Project: MissouriJanuary 14th, 2017
Joe Johnson: The States Project: MissouriJanuary 13th, 2017
Kat Reynolds: The States Projects: MissouriJanuary 12th, 2017
David Johnson: The States Project: MissouriJanuary 11th, 2017
Priya Kambli: The States Project: MissouriJanuary 10th, 2017