Jessica Fenlon : Bio


I live and work "embedded in the audience". I have worked with the general public in museum education, in digital retail, in media production, as a tutor and teacher.

Growing up, I got an A++ art history education visiting museums. Judy Chicago, Remidios Varo, Georgia O'Keefe, Robert Mapplethorpe, Faith Ringgold, Bruce Naumann, Jacob Lawrence, William Blake, Paul Klee, Mario Merz, Ana Mendieta, Kandinsky, Duchamp, Mark Rothko, Frida Kahlo, William Kentridge, Sol LeWitt, Mel Bochner . . . .

We want to have a cohesive story for the world, its history. The information superhighway has revealed how the filter of ‘single story’ fails as a psychological organizing method of navigating the world. Instead, we can work to understand undercurrents. What of human imagination? Varo, Burroughs, DADA, Surrealism, automatism, cutups, fairytales, arcana, each of these are important to me.

At twenty I began daily zen meditation practice. Attending college, zen became Thich Nhat Hanh's mindfulness, then Tibetan Tonglen. Then back to Zen. Koans, mantra, slogans. My BFA, from UW-Madison, was made of painting and drawing, lithography, glass and neon sculpture.

I finished my MFA in 2002, at SMFA, Boston. Litho, sound installation, sculpture, egg tempera paintings on digital still images, and hand-altered 16mm film were my MFA thesis. It was 'about' language, the word in the sentence, the context and definition, the many stories that arrive together in the icon.

The technologies I art with now didn't exist when I finished my MFA. I began showing digital video-based work in Pittsburgh in 2005, doing live projection work to accompany bands, choreographers, and my own performances, in 2006. Six Gallery Press published my first book of poetry, Spiritual Side Effects, in 2008.

My digital experimental short films have screened internationally since 2012. In 2014, I began working in Processing and other code-based creative methods. I moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in late 2015, after living in Chicago for five years.

The Buddhist pratityasamutpada describes my understanding of the artwork 'arriving'. Interdependant co-arising is a great English phrase for it. The digital disappears, as well; like performance, it cannot be owned, I enjoy its fugitive presence.

How does our technology affect us?