Jen Grabarczyk-Turner (b. 1982, Toledo, OH) is an interdisciplinary artist and academic who currently lives and works in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is currently working toward a PhD in the Philosophy, Art, & Critical Thought program with The European Graduate School. Prior, she received an MFA in studio art from Claremont Graduate University (2012) and an MA from Mars Hill Graduate School (2009), with an integrative focus in psychology, theology and cultural studies. Her undergraduate studies were focused in both art and psychology at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.
Jen was in a dance studio practically as early as she could walk. Although dance is no longer a part of her life in the same way, the corporeal memory of movement infused a great amount of her graduate work in the art studio. The long experience of dance in her life continues to compel complex studies in memory, trauma, and the body.
words about the work
dab / shunt / spoor exhibition (2012) and other works
My work functions as an act of bearing witness. Within it, I process consciousness, memory, narrative and time through the choreographed integration of cerebral representations and bodily movement. Through forms both strange and elegant, I seek to activate a viewer’s memory and consciousness–psychologically and corporeally.
Narrative elements underlie gestural marks, which are formed out of a memory of a physical place or encounter from any given day. In the making, the particulars of these memory-narratives escape me, placing me in a position of grasping for mental representations while trusting the memory contained within my body and unconscious mind. In this state of un-grounding, I flirt with choreography and performance as I move back and forth between a judicious sense of presence and a suspension of such rationally organized structures. Intuition comes to the forefront, facilitating a dance between location and evasion, the obtaining and relinquishing of control, the shunting and solidifying of boundaries.
The rhythms of these movements serve to reach a self-conscious end through seemingly un-self-conscious gestures. I am attentive to the experience of consciousness as it amalgamates the physical reality of such materials as canvas, oil stick, marker, paint–and even photography and film. I intend for the range, physicality, placement and energy of the marks to entice viewers further into a psychological and corporeal relationship with themselves and with their contexts.
Rather than reduce the complexity of viewer’s individual narratives, the abstraction in the work seeks to expand it, in the same way that the re-activation and relinquishment of particular memories through mark-making seeks to expand mine. My hope is that this permeability of recognizable forms encourages viewers to fill in absences out of the tracing and retracing of their own bodies and cognitions.
Seduction plays an important role in my work insofar as it relates to beauty and strangeness. Beauty, as I see it, exists in the place of the strangely familiar–in that nearly nostalgic moment that draws us back into memory in order to move us forward to the present (and into presence). And further still to the brink of what is almost there–presence as met by absence, in an abstracted play of what is yet to be revealed.
These partial images formed by human-made gestures allure for the intimately physical qualities as well as their ability to precipitate remembrance. They flow organically, at times geometrically, making it difficult for viewers to know if they are seeing a building, a face or some other vaguely familiar life thing. These forms are fragments that play off of dislocation. Some of the marks appear to be childlike scribbles, while others are weighted, dark and aged. The fits of color seek an oddly elegant harmony where muted, ordinary, mundane and dull sit next to sarcastic, punchy, and vibrant dabs. However, the definition of each is in flux throughout the piece, depending on a viewer’s perception of the marks relating to or isolating from one another.
It is through a disruption of expectancy, and the incompatibility of familiarity and estrangement, that I intend for viewers to be invited into encounters with the spoor of their whole self—where, in surrendering to the seduction, there is the possibility of expanded consciousness.