Jennifer Weigel is a multi-disciplinary mixed media conceptual artist residing in Somerville, Massachusetts. Weigel utilizes a wide range of media to convey her ideas, including assemblage, drawing, fibers, installation, jewelry, painting, performance, photography and video. Much of her work touches on themes of beauty, identity (especially as it pertains to gender identity), memory & forgetting, and institutional critique. Weigel's art has been exhibited nationally and has won numerous awards, and we’re pleased to have some of her work on display during Miri Gallery’s exhibit, “Welcome to My World: Mental Health Awareness Through Art.” She’s been kind enough to answer some interview questions for us:
••Tell us a little bit about your background. What made you interested in art? Who were your early influencers?
After high school, I insisted on going to art school and attended Kansas City Art Institute with the intent of going into animation art (I was a huge Disney fan growing up and they recruited there) but instead wound up in fibers instead. I later graduated from Webster University in 2002 with a BFA in Studio Art, Alternative Media (focusing on performance and installation art). Regarding early influences, I loved Klimt’s work and use of pattern and later became drawn to more provocative feminist artists like Judy Chicago and Cindy Sherman.
•• Please tell us a bit about your pieces that are being exhibited at Miri Gallery. How do they fall into the theme of mental health awareness?
The works I have on display at Miri Gallery speak to fragility. I want to raise awareness of how our perception of ourselves affects our state of being. I am a very sensitive person and struggle with self doubt and shame, and I feel very fragile and broken all too much of the time. Things get to me and I can’t shake them off. Self portraits reflect so much about an artist’s frame of mind and state of being, especially how they relate to themselves.
••Can you describe the time when you first realized that creating was something you absolutely had to do?
As long as I can remember I knew I was going to be an artist. Even in grade school. I was always drawing and creating something, it comes naturally to me. I can’t imagine not doing so.
•• What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have?
I have OCD and cannot leave things unfinished. So I can’t abandon a project in the middle of it to go to sleep without waking in the middle of the night with insomnia, even if the sleep is desperately needed. For this reason I have tried to hone my art practice in ways that help me to get things done efficiently and in a timely manner, and to develop stopping points in projects so I can return to them more easily later on. I am very driven and exhibit constantly, and I am very organized and proactive, planning things out for months in advance. I try not to inhibit my creative process and allow it to take me where it will, so I don’t self-censor much nowadays and explore a huge range of media and ideas in doing so.
•• What are you trying to communicate with your art?
Much of my work exists as social commentary and as a form of catharsis to work through things. My performance art teacher told me to approach performance art as though working on overcoming or addressing a problem in some way. So I often try to deal with things that are bothering me in my work.
You can view more of Jennifer's work at Miri Gallery during the Salt Lake Gallery Stroll on September 16.
Show will be up September 16 - October 7.