Meet Jenna Howell - Artist Resident

 Photo by Tu anh Thai

Photo by Tu anh Thai

Can you describe your work for us in 7 words or less?
Decomposing vistas. Hairy, waxy, fiber paintings.

Being an artist can be a challenging profession, what advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t get caught up in rejection. Since college I have applied to at least 75 show opportunities, interviewed for a range of positions and spent many late nights working jobs I’m not fond of so I can paint. But then one acceptance letter comes through and it all starts to fall into place. Being an artist isn’t predictable so I try my best to find the waiting and the harder times exciting. My roommate always says “The hustle is good for the memoir ” and I think that’s some of the best advice I could have received because being an artist isn’t about the end result, the joy is in the work and the process.

What are you listening to at the moment?
Maggie Rogers. If I have to sum up my paintings just listen to Alaska, it changed my life. Also Vacationers, Whitney (the band) and First Aid Kit. Though if I am really stuck on a painting and need something to pump me up Cardi B usually helps me out and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

 Photo by Tu anh Thai

Photo by Tu anh Thai

What do you look at for inspiration?
My inspiration comes a lot from travel. This year I got to travel to Poland, Italy and Hungary so I spent a few weeks collecting anything from old postcards to film photographs. When I cannot travel, I love going to thrift and antique stores to find old photographs, postcards, newspaper articles, anything with some good landscapes. I also go to the Philadelphia Museum of Art once a month despite my busy schedule to find inspiration from the masters. I watch a lot of documentaries as well on environmental issues to gain insight into the way the world is changing.  

What artists inspire you most?
My work is mostly inspired by impressionist painters such as Degas, Van Gogh and Cezanne. I look a lot at traditional Japanese landscape paintings as well as contemporary artists such as Shara Hughes, Anne Hamilton and the writing of Annie Dillard.  I just got a book on ancient women Chinese Landscape Painters so I am pretty pumped about that!

Who would be a dream artist to collaborate with?
CY Twombly. He is hands down my biggest inspiration and I wish he was still alive so I could just be a fly on the wall in his studio.

 Photo by Tu anh Thai

Photo by Tu anh Thai

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What’s something that you learned early in your career that you feel made you a better artist?Art is not magic, the creative process is wobbly and full of failure but completely worth it. Once I learned that, I embraced my failures and allowed myself to experiment. Those experiments and failures have led to what I consider some of my greatest successes. That’s where the magic is.

Why did you apply to become a resident at Jasper Studios? And what did you hope to achieve during the residency program?
I applied to Jasper residency program to be apart of an artist community again. After I graduated college I continued my practice in my home studio however, I was missing the sense of community. Looking at Jasper I saw a chance to meet more creatives and be apart of something more than just my own practice. I hoped coming to Jasper would provide me with more creative opportunities and it has!  Personally, I hoped coming to Jasper would push the boundaries of my practice. Having the large space has allowed me to experiment more and create bigger pieces for upcoming shows. Since coming to Jasper I have booked more opportunities to show my work and have learned so much from the other tenants.