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Art & Life with Jennifer Crowder

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Crowder.

Jennifer, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
My father was always taking photos of us growing up. I remember him setting his camera up on the tripod for family photos, then pressing the shutter and quickly running over to his spot. He liked to stand us side by side on a wall in order of height, and it became a running joke that we were criminals being picked out of a lineup- sometimes we would even turn sideways and take a shot of our profiles, just to be funny. He never pursued photography as a living or art form- the photos were always candid and more like family album photos. However, he once visited my Great Grandpa Holy in Wisconsin, and the photos he brought back blew my mind. They were photos of my Grandpa living his everyday life- riding his bike on a crisp sunny day or sitting in a worn out lazy-boy, reading the paper by a window. I didn’t know my Grandpa well, due to the distance between us, but I felt like these photos gave me an idea of who he was. They were very endearing. I didn’t know it, but I was already forming a love for photography, through my Dad.

As a teenager, I saw some photos my friend Vanessa’s Dad, Michael Murphy, had taken hanging on the wall in their home. One of them, I remember, was of a door. I had never really seen photography as art, and I remember I thought it was so strange and wonderful. I didn’t know it then, but it was definitely a defining moment in my love for fine art photography.

A couple of years later, the summer after my senior year of high school, my best friend passed away in a helicopter accident. I quickly realized that I had hardly any photographs to remember her by, and began carrying little disposable cameras everywhere with me. It became an obsession.

When I started taking classes at the community college as an English major (I wanted to be a writer), I needed an elective and chose drawing, because I had always been a doodler. I immediately fell in love with the art world; the history the psychology, the meditative quality of creation. I can’t say I was very good at drawing, but eventually, I took a photography class, and it was like everything finally fell into place. The photos my Dad took, the interesting photo of the door, the desire to capture every fleeting moment, they all came together with the magic of the darkroom, and I was hooked.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I am a portrait photographer with a background in both fine art and fashion. I use lighting, props, costumes, and sets to create character studies that invoke moods, emotions, or surreal conceptual portraits that cultivate conversations about imagination and humanity.

Inspired by photographer and installation artist Sandy Skoglund, I have recently taken an interest in building scenes for my portraits. In the current series “Walls,” I create an installation around or inside the same handmade wooden 4’x8’ wooden box, and then a model is photographed within the installation. So far, I have only used materials that are free or inexpensive- things we are familiar with and easily relate to. Most of them have been repurposed, donated by people who no longer need or want them.

The time I spend installing the set is an important part of the process, allowing me to become a physical part of the work, rather than the work being something I simply photographed. It’s important to me, too, that the viewer understands that this dream-like image is created by hand, not digitally enhanced, speaking of our ability as humans to use our imagination and our hands to literally transform the space around us.

I fill the physical space in or around the box with the intent to reference how we are affected by the physical and psychological spaces (boxes) we create for ourselves or are forced into by others. Repetition, multiples, and excess are thematic throughout the project, placing emphasis on what the duplicated objects mean. I have an idea in mind as I work, but the interpretation of each image is ultimately left up to the viewer, as we all have different associations with the objects that make up the installations. However, the consistent presence of the box throughout the series should ask the viewer to question their perceptions of themselves and others.

What responsibility, if any, do you think artists have to use their art to help alleviate problems faced by others? Has your art been affected by issues you’ve concerned about?
I think artists have always been pioneers of community, growth, and reflection. One of the ways art benefits our society the most, in my opinion, is by providing a safe space in which we can talk about things that are taboo, or would otherwise be left unsaid. Art starts conversations. I wouldn’t say that my art draws inspiration from or is directly affected by specific current events, but because it does deal with our perceptions of ourselves and others, there is room for those types of interpretations.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
To see more of my work, you can follow me on Instagram by the handle @jennifer_crowder_artist, or visit my website at www.jennifercrowderartist.com. You can also request a studio visit by emailing me at jennifer@jennifercrowderartist.com. Right now I have a piece up in the gallery at Hausmann Millworks Art Complex, where I keep my studio, as well as in a group show at Credit Human in Southtown San Antonio- you can show your support by coming to our opening March 22nd. In April, I will have a solo show up at Caffeine Underground in New York. I’m always taking commissions, and I always have prints for sale. Please email me for more information!

Contact Info:

  • Address: 925 W. Russell Pl.
    San Antonio, TX
    78212
  • Website: www.jennifercrowderartist.com
  • Phone: 2103738043
  • Email: jennifer@jennifercrowderartist.com
  • Instagram: @jennifer_crowder_artist

Image Credit:
Claudia Pena-Martinez
Jennifer Crowder

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