Jennifer Pazienza

ArtAscent Distinguished Artist of the 2021 Winter call for artists

Distinguished Artist of the ArtAscent Winter call for entry. To see the full body of work, grab a copy of the ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal Winter issue.

Artist Statement

My approach to painting relies on a kind of radical presence where I open myself to the joys and pains of the world. There I trust again and again my intuitive sense to attend to the competing calls of what matters most in the moment. After years of ritually working with a limited palette and its limitless possibilities, colour opens onto generous skies or branches bent in prayer. In the swish of windy transparent washes or squeezed into layered shadows that create depth and mystery, in every brushstroke there is the possibility of multiple meanings that summon body, mind, and spirit.

About My Work

Conceived as bridges between human nature and all other natures, my paintings are pathways to connection and reconciliation. My beloved Keswick Ridge is where I paint to explore personal myths and histories, to heal the psychic havoc wrought by childhood loss, and to celebrate the life I now have. They demonstrate my faith in the healing power of landscape imagery. Poetic and political, I paint to subvert the unhealthy effects that a diminished regard for beauty and landscape have had upon individuals, society, and the environment.

In contrast to an ever-increasing technological blooming and the buzzing confusion that is a hallmark of contemporary life, I maintain an old-fashioned love affair with paint. Oil paint. As a student of the ephemeral, of truth and beauty, of light and space and home, my paintings animate the physical landscape in which I stand, and the interior landscapes of my life. Painting in my Keswick Ridge studio is significantly shaped by the tall windows that frame vast views of the Saint John River valley, and the wild worlds just on the other side of the glass. My practice of looking through the windows twig memories of distant landscapes that bubble up as I paint, and only come to see in quiet reflection.

For as long as I can remember, the stuff of the natural world has been my go-to place for refuge and renewal. Mine is a landscape way of seeing, the seeds of which grew against the urban surroundings of my formative years. Grounded in the present moment, the intimate landscape paintings I make in my studio are wholly informed by my sacramental regard for the imaginative power of poetic spaces that have their roots in the past; in my girlhood New Jersey home, in the shelter of a sun porch with its French pane windows looking out onto the magic of a lone Maple tree growing from a circle of earth in an otherwise cement sidewalk. The fragrant safety and freedom that was my Sicilian American mother’s backyard garden canopied by an enormous peach tree and crammed with flowers, herbs and vegetables, grape vines, and rose-arbours, remains with me today. Bookends to our house, both enclosures invited daydreaming and art making, and were the only spaces untouched by domestic violence.

On the spectrum between representation and abstraction, the actual and symbolic, or wherever the viewer takes their visual rest, in my paintings landscape becomes metaphor. Love, longing, and the fluidity of time activate and shape the poetic paintings I make, safe sites, hospitable, embracing and transformative.

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