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Jennifer Ghormley, artist

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Jennifer Ghormley received her MFA in printmaking in 2006 from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln and her BFA with an emphasis in printmaking in 2002 from Metropolitan State College of Denver.  Jennifer actively shows her work through national juried exhibitions, exchanges, and invitation exhibitions.  From 2007 to 2009, Ms. Ghormley was the studio manager of Anderson Ranch Print Editions at Anderson Ranch Art Center, Snowmass Village, CO. Currently, Jennifer teaches is an Affiliate Faculty at CU Boulder, Metropolitan State College of Denver, Arapahoe Community College, and is a visiting artist to other arts organizations among the Colorado region.  She has also taught workshops for Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Gatlinburg, TN, Peninsula School of Art, Fish Creek, WI, Anderson Ranch Art Center, as well as Ah-Haa School for the Arts, Telluride, CO.  Recently, Ms. Ghormley hung a solo installation at Liv Aspen Art, in downtown Aspen, Colorado, and enjoyed a 3-week artist’s residency at the Venice Printmaking Studio, in Italy.  In order to embrace all of her creative urges Jennifer creates artwork under her own name, as well as Jen G Studios.

She is one of the artists exhibiting in Noyes Art Gallery’s Femmes Qui Bercent exhibit in March 2013 (in Lincoln details below). She shares with LFF about making Valentine’s growing up, studying art and feminism throughout college, the various ways feminism plays a role in her work and more…

Background:

I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and every Valentine’s Day, we had to make red and pink doily cards to send to my Grandma. I took my first art class in 10th grade, and I loved it. I pursued Photography for a while in my early training, and found the magic of printmaking in undergraduate school at Metro State in Denver, CO. I also found an attraction to artist’s books, and could combine all of my interests through this medium. I chose to pursue this ‘art thing’ and attended Graduate school at the University of Nebraska, in Lincoln. Intensive research into feminist artists and theorists spanned my bachelors and master’s degrees, and continues to be an area of interest and inquiry today.
My work/inspirations:

visually: nature, pods, color, shape, form, line, value, the figure, inspections of the self
conceptually: women’s roles, social construction of gender and the roles within society and the private realm, using pods as a metaphor for female identity, 
Feminism plays a role in my work:

I work from a keen and heightened sense of my own corporeal existence.  Thoughts and memories of social interactions, intimate situations, and ensuing mental and emotive layers inform my art.  I employ my own body as a matrix, a tool for endless variations and experimentations, and in this way, analyze my experiences and personal history, transcending the mere narcissistic impulse into deeper realms.  Human beings inhabit a lived physical shell, easily manipulated and distorted, creating a surreal reality, as the residue of emotions stain the skin in an accumulative process. 

My art stems from a private contrast of traditions, as I continually examine my heritage, experiences, and environment. Working with various processes, such as printmaking, drawing and photography, paper and fabric, stitching and staining, my artwork evokes a sensual response.  I employ my own collected vocabulary of forms and personalized symbols, a pin to recall a stab of physical pain, a color to reflect a mood or emotion, a sewn line of thread to reference body hair, scars or creases of the skin.  These metaphors instigate a physical experience, creating an intimate dialogue between the content of the object and the perception of the viewer.  Materials are engaged in a physical transformation by the transformation of fluid fabric into an undulating form.  Disguising the figure behind a drape or veil creates an atmosphere of mystery, as well as an element of protection.  To deny the viewer full access stimulates a conflict between desire and control, eliciting a physical and emotional reaction.

The use of physical layers to symbolizes the complexity of human thoughts and emotions, often times confusing and irrational. These private relationships instigate resistance between the inner and outer self, creating an atmosphere of tension and turmoil.  The resulting effect resides on the surface of the skin in the form of a facial expression, physical gesture, or a sensitive exterior that carries the evidence and memory of touch.  Manipulating and distorting the figure in my work calls attention to popular cultural phenomena about the body as a personal socio-political criticism.  Imaging a fragmented body emphasizes is corporeal aspects, as isolated elements demand specific attention.  A gestured hand, misplaced limb or distressed surface serve as a metaphor for internal emotional unrest, opening the door of vulnerability.  Decorative patterns symbolize gates and act as a visual barrier, a metaphor for the two-way action of revealing and concealing emotions.  To pass through them is to bear witness to suppressed layers that remain trapped within the psyche, manifesting on to the skin. 

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"Cringe," by Jennifer Ghormley

Making work about being here in the body, I dissect and reassemble my own form in expressive ways, to universalize the female body as a general representation of humanity.  Combining androgynous body parts to generate a being of another world, non-descript fleshy forms dissolve into a flux of shifting signifiers and tangential references.  These images and objects transcend reality, engage fantasy, and integrate aesthetics of beauty with the mysterious in a way that challenges social taboos.  My artworks and installations trace the history of touch and physical sensations of the body, its corporeal reality.

The pieces I have set aside for this show are the culmination of ideas and processes I have been working with. While sometimes I have a specific idea in mind at the beginning, largely I use the idea as a springboard, and am open to allowing the process to inform the work. For example, one fall I was on a road trip to hang a show in Vancouver, B.C. Driving around the Northwest coast, I happened upon a lush, overgrown road. I stopped to take photographs, and accidentally shot a very blurry image of a portion of my fac. It was so abstract and so softly colored, simultaneously mysterious and beautiful. This began a body of work, and the pieces Dissipate and Dissect (in the show) are from that series. It combines a photograph with a woodcut pattern printed onto sheer fabric. The two pieces are sewn together, a reflection of and homage to the female side of my family heritage.
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More of Jennifer’s art at: jenniferghormley.com and jengstudios.com. See her work in Femme Qui Bercent, opening March 1 at Noyes Gallery, 119 9th St. in Lincoln, 6-9pm running thru March 25. Details here!