SIX OF ONE: JENNY MORGAN
Six Quick Questions
With One of My Favorite Artists
In the Field with Lori Zimmer
I first came face to face with Jenny Morgan‘s haunting nudes at Scope New York 2011. Her gallery, Brooklyn’s Like the Spice, and I had booths that shared a walkway to a strange installation–a clear box with a frat party going on inside for four days. Despite the constant distraction of watching five 21 year-olds drinking copious amounts of beer in a clear box, I could not stop looking into the eyes of her piece, which faced me across the walk way. Morgan’s subjects break the old tradition of the female gaze, but instead of confronting their audience, seem to plead with them.
Morgan creates portrait upon portrait–often of herself–that seem to capture a moment of surprise, hesitation or doubt. They make me ponder vulnerability and tangibility, as most of her subjects have blurred eyes, hands, or both. Hands are transparent, discolored or patterned, while the subjects eyes set transfixed on the viewer. The effects make me think of Morgan’s paintings as images of apparitions who are trying to communicate a message to me from beyond.
1.What are you currently obsessed with?
Honestly, I’m currently obsessed with a new little kitten I just brought home a few days ago. His name is Samson and he’s 4 months old. He is turning out to be such a handful. It was good timing though to dedicate some space in life to something other than my studio. I tend to be a workaholic, like many artists, so it’s healthy for me to be reminded that a balance between work and home is essential.
2. Describe your work in three words
Layer. Reveal. Red.
3. What are your favorite recent exhibitions?
I loved Haunted at the Guggenheim. Ethereal themes are always attractive to me and this exhibition addressed how different mediums have the ability to show the past within the present. Much of the work was dark, ghostly, and had the ability to place the viewer in a specific place in time. My favorite pieces were those of the photographer Sally Mann. Her use of wet-plate gives her photographs truly haunting atmosphere. I appreciated the effort of looking into the abyss and trying to understand the ineffable quality of time and our place within it.
4. What is your favorite place and why?
Besides the obvious answer of my home and studio, I would say my favorite physical space is a coffee shop in Denver named St. Marks. I lived in Colorado for 6 years and spent many days there drinking tea, staring off into space and working through concepts in my notebook. I still visit when I go back, and the place feels just as inviting–good vibes all around.
5. What is your go to karaoke song?
Just last week a group of friends and I rented a room at a karaoke bar in Koreatown NYC. It was truly a freeing experience. Normally, I am very shy when it comes to engaging publicly, but something about that night allowed me to start singing and I couldn’t stop. Seriously. I sang every other song and was hogging the mic. The song I reveled in singing the most was “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana. Anything from the mid 90′s really–rewardingly nostalgic.
6. What book has most influenced you?
I mostly listen to audiobooks–it’s a constant in my studio practice and it’s mostly nonfiction dealing with anything science-based. I can’t name one specifically. But, as far as fiction, Skinny Legs and All by Tom Robbins. I heavily identify with the female character. I was reading it on the subway one afternoon and came across a passage that made me burst into tears. You know it’s a powerful book to make you cry in public.
Jenny Morgan is an oil painter, currently residing in Brooklyn.
Written by Lori Zimmer
Photography Courtesy of Jenny Morgan
Design by Devon Pentz
Artwork & Photography Courtesy of Jenny Morgan