This post continues my series “In-Sync with…” aimed to get a closer look at a variety of contemporary artists and art professionals from Chicago and abroad. Read it, enjoy it, share it, and get in-sync with Chicago artist Jennifer Moore. Do not miss her personal recommendations at the end of the interview.
I met Jennifer Moore some years back as we were both art students at Governors State University. I have always been compelled and attracted to her photographic works. Last Summer, Jennifer received the Award of Excellence in the photo medium at the 7th Annual National Self Portrait Exhibition for her work titled “Cup Cakes and High Heels: It’s a Juggling Act” which resinated in my mind for a while. Life is, for many of us, a constant juggling act. Her work speaks to me as authentic, direct, autobiographical, and always inviting to establish a personal dialog. Jennifer Moore is also an exhibiting artist of 33 Contemporary Gallery in Chicago.
ABOUT JENNIFER MOORE
Sergio: Where did you go to school (college/university) and what degree you received?
Jennifer: I went to Governors State University for both my BA (Art History) and MA (Photography).
Sergio: Do you feel art school prepared you for the art career you have now?
Jennifer: Yes, to a degree. I think that there are just some things you learn as you grow…some things a University or Art School just can’t teach you.
Sergio: What is one thing you wish you had learned at art school?
Jennifer: Governors State was a very unique place to learn my art. The professors were wonderful and a good deal of time was spent flushing out the conceptual part of my work. That was good. But I wish that more time was spent learning the business end of art.
Sergio: What are you working on and what inspires you right now?
Jennifer: I’m inspired by my own experiences, my family, religion, and life. I’m inspired by other people’s experiences and their stories. I love stories. My work has a sadness or darkness to it that is driven by the trials and tribulations of my own experiences and people in general. Every person in this world has a story. It’s those stories that drive me to reevaluate my life and my art.I’m currently working on a series of images that visualizes how we deal with feelings of guilt. Guilt is (I think) a universal feeling that lingers in our lives. I’m interested in how people cope with it, the things they do to understand it, and how guilt is internalized generally and individually.
Sergio: How does a typical day in your studio/creative space looks like?
Jennifer: I have a home studio (digital and wet darkroom). Lately I’ve been working in digital format. Having the computer in a central location in my home helps. I can easily edit files and make dinner simultaneously! I’ll admit that my desk is a mess, so once every few months, I “spring clean” it.The fun thing about creating my art is that my creative space changes with the location I shoot at. It’s amazing how much inspiration I can draw from certain locations. I’ve photographed in abandoned buildings, run-down structures, my back yard, the beach – each location gave me something that I’m not sure I could get in a traditional studio.
Sergio: Describe your creative process.
Jennifer: My creative process starts with a spark that can come from almost anything. I write a lot. I have little journals laying around everywhere – in my car, in my work bag, on my night stand, in my purse. When something strikes me, I write about it. I find that if I don’t write it down, I’ll forget. Once I write, I sketch, allowing the concept to linger while I look for suitable props and models. I don’t sketch details, just a quick rough draft because I like to let my scenes, props, models and how I feel that particular day to dictate the final outcome of a piece.
Sergio: What type of mental/practical activities do you do when facing a creative block?
Jennifer: Running helps me clear my head and visualize ideas. I do it as much to keep in shape as I do to release my creative juices or work out a problem with my work. Running trails has also helped me to find interesting locations for my shoots.I also find that returning to my roots (wet darkroom) helps me focus in my digital work. Sometimes shooting a roll of film, knowing that I only have 24 or 36 exposures forces me to really think about what I’m framing in my camera. There is something magical and very tangible about the wet darkroom process that I love. Getting my hands wet and watching an image develop under safe lights reminds me why I wanted to be a photographer.
Sergio: Do you find social media to be a distraction or an asset for you as an artist and how do you deal with it?
Jennifer: Ah, social media! I think it has been a personal distraction for me, but it had helped my art career. It takes up a good deal of time, but it’s necessary. Balance has always been a challenge for me. I find that there are times when I need to limit my time on social media sites – sort of a self imposed social media fast.
Sergio: What is your biggest challenge as a contemporary artist?
Jennifer: I’ve always been challenged by the business end of art. Sometimes I wish that part didn’t need to exist! I’m also organizationally challenged with the digital aspect of my work. RAW files, edited Photoshop files, etc…they all take up space and need to be organized so they can be retrieved later. Just when I developed an organizational system for my film negatives, I went 75% digital!
Sergio: How much does the art market influences your art production/output?
Jennifer: The art market doesn’t influence my art work, but as a photographer I have learned to limit the editions of prints I offer.
Sergio: What’s next for you?
Jennifer: I’m working on a project about guilt. The project is in its infancy right now, but I’m very excited about it. I’ve asked friends, family, acquaintances and even strangers to contribute a story about what role the feelings of guilt have played in their lives. I’m collecting the stories and working on images from each story. My hope is that in the end I will publish a book.
ABOUT CONTEMPORARY ART
Sergio: What excites you about your local art scene?
Jennifer: Chicago has a fantastic art scene! I feel so at home here. Chicago’s art scene is unpretentious and it’s as much about the art as it is about the artist. I love that.
Sergio: What is missing, lacking or changing in contemporary art?
Jennifer: Change is inevitable. Especially in my work (photography). I think it’s interesting that sites like Instagram are facilitating a “point and shoot” way of creating images. It reminds me of the challenge that Victorian photographers faced when they tried to convince the art world that photographs were art too. I’ve learned to accept that art isn’t always about being a formally trained artist.
Sergio: What is your take on the current emphasis on contemporary art fairs?
Jennifer: Art fairs are interesting, but I’ve always felt as if they weren’t appropriate venues for my work. I do go to them on occasion and admire the work that is presented though.
Sergio: Do you believe gallery representation today is as important as it has been in the past?
Jennifer: I’m not sure, but I’m hoping not. I think all artists are looking for validation and justification in creating their work. It would be nice to know that gallery representation isn’t necessary for that.
Sergio: How do you envision the art world would be different ten years from now?
Jennifer: I think more co-operatives will pop up. More “community-based” spaces for artists to generate and acquire the support they need. That’s a good thing because we all need support!
Book…“ART/WORK: Everything You Need to Know (and Do) As You Pursue Your Art Career” This is a fantastic book chock full of information that I learned the hard way!
Art movie or documentary…I love the quaint, low budget documentaries about lesser known artists.
Art museum…So many to choose from here in the city. I love the Cultural Center in the Loop – it’s free and it always shows interesting contemporary artists. I love that they highlight a lot of photographers too. There are also some smaller, lesser known museums in the suburbs that support local artists. Illinois State Museum in Lockport is very nice.
Contemporary artist (other than yourself)… Joel Peter Witkin, Arthur Tress, Duan Michaels and Ralph Eugene Meatyard. I love the surreal and cerebral quality of their work.
Place to be inspired by…Outside, on a trail in a forest in any given season.
One sentence advice for an art student…Don’t be shy about showing your work….enter as many exhibitions as you possibly can.
Chicago cafe/restaurant…Nightwood Cafe. Their Baked Alaska is absolute amazing.