When I found out that I was accepted to the Women’s Studio Workshop for the summer of 2008, I was so excited to return to this amazing place after a fellowship I did there in 2006. This time having the honor of the National Endowment for the Arts Grant, I knew the many weeks of uninterrupted time would be a great time to experiment and to develop a new series of work. Being at WSW again was a wonderful experience. The atmosphere is one of creative energy and support by the staff and the other residents.
During the residency I continued my exploration in mixed media and casting glass objects as carrier for my screen prints. This is an involved process and always a technical challenge from a materials perspective. The mold-making process includes many steps and is intensive while you are building each part, but also allows for the time to explore new ideas. As I began this project I started to develop new ideas of other projects as well.
One facet to my work is collecting found materials. I go to thrift stores, flea markets, and walks to find these objects. The area around the studio is inspirational for these collecting adventures; it is ripe with yard sales and thrift shops. I document my finds through my own photography and drawings in my sketchbook. I have been exploring how discarded objects as well as ones passed down to me by my family become personal keepsakes and icons of the past which would otherwise be overlooked or regarded as something useless. My collections represent a sense of holding onto a place in time. By re-creating these objects through casting and re-fabrication I recast the history of these objects as part of my own voice.
My grandfather was an amateur photographer who documented our family’s history. My grandmother told family stories using his images as a reference point. She was also a great shopper and dressing was an art form for her. As a young girl I would try on her outfits, play with her purses, and search through her button box. I have always wanted to work on a piece dealing with the lost art of women’s accessories and dressing. I started to find antique purses and knew then that this was the avenue that I wanted to pursue.
After discovering these finds I began to work in the ceramics studio, which I have now fondly named the rabbit hole. I had the fortunate help and support of Carolyn Baginski, a current studio intern. Working with another person is a great way to learn from one another and develop new ideas and techniques. She also gained the first-hand experience of working with a glass artist where some things come out of the kiln wonderfully and others fail…which is a constant frustration. But we persevered.
I walked away with a series of glass pieces that I can proudly screen-print on. I am looking forward to seeing everyone again at WSW and sharing my work once it unfolds into a larger installation. Without all of their generous support my new installation and work would not be as strong as it is today.
Visit Jen’s website www.jenblazina.com/
More pictures of Jen at WSW in our Flickr photostream