21 Aug 2014
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Ossining Artist's Family Inspiration

Ossining artist Jenna Lash has a new collection of works, which are based on her family's journey.

Ossining Artist's Family Inspiration Ossining Artist's Family Inspiration

Ossining resident, Jenna Lash, has traveled the world as an artist, with solo exhibitions in recent years in Switzerland, Beverly Hills, Stamford and Manhattan.  Her newest collection of works "Imagined Memories - A Family Album" is her most personal to date.  The 15 piece exhibition, focuses on the subject of family and family dynamics, beginning with her own.  

Lash left her life behind for two years in order to care for her ailing father, who was diagnosed with bone cancer, making it her full-time job.  Their retirement community became Jenna's home away from home.  Last year within four months of each other, Jenna's father passed away as did her mother, and she believes it was because of a broken heart. 

Cherishing the memories of her mother and father, Lash utilized her art as an outlet to work through the whirlwind of emotions she was experiencing.  She explored her own sense of loss and pain from the past years through her work.

Lash took an inherited collection of family photographs as her base and the finished product of work was the oil based series "Imagined Memories - A Family Album," which was showcased in New York City at Synchronicity Fine Arts and will be making its way to the Hamptons to the Ezair Gallery beginning on July 14th. 

JENNA LASH ON HER PROCESS

I try to work in my studio every day. Any day that I am not there, I feel that I am not complete. My work is my passion and my lifeblood.  I am on my feet all day long because much of my work is really big -- 48”x60” -- or bigger if I do a diptych. (A diptych is really two paintings placed side by side to make a larger one. So my diptychs are 96”x 120.”) But, even if I do small work, I usually stand because I feel that I bring more energy to my creation that way.  My canvases are too big for a regular easel, so I have built these two big flat easels into my walls. I attach my canvases onto the easels with big wooden clasps that slide up and down to fit the size of the canvas.  

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I exercise in the morning before I get started working so that my energy level is up for all the physical labor that I will be doing. When I go into the studio I have to try to clear my mind. It’s not always easy. But, after many years, I know that I have to let go and go into a kind of zen state to allow the magic to happen. I play around with things a little, like organizing my brushes, and testing out some colors that I want to use that day, to ease my way down the rabbit hole. The colors I use in my paintings are intuitive. After I came back from a trip to Provence, all I could see was different shades of ochre, like Cezanne and Van Gogh saw in that landscape. While I was in France, I even bought a lot of powdered pigment to make my own paints. When I returned I used a lot of the red, yellow, and brown ochre color in my new work. I feel as though I absorb the colors, shapes, textures, and experiences I see and feel, and reconfigure them through my art. 

Then I settle down and start to work. And it is work, although I love it. I love the studio smells of paint and mediums which are used to change their thickness, fluidity, and texture. I stand there painting away.  Sometimes I move between different sized canvases or between a canvas and a drawing.  I’ll do that if the paint on one canvas is wet, or I know that I can’t go any further on that particular painting. 

I have to let go sometimes and just leave the work for awhile to let my intuition tell me where I need to go, although there is often the compulsion to keep on pushing with it. While working on my previous series, about the iconography of money, I felt that I had reached a certain level of comfort so that, although it was labor intensive with each dot of stippled paint individually brushed onto the canvas, I felt that I could relax into it. My zone is the sort that athletes talk about when they know that they are throwing a pitch well, or able to see the football coming like it’s a big pumpkin flying right into their arms. That’s how I felt while doing those paintings, after a while. I always knew, even if something went wrong, that it would work out. 

However, my new family ancestry series is much tougher. I am using oil paints all the time again, which take a long time to dry. There is only so much you can do on the painting before it loses its rich color and just becomes mud. You have to be very patient, and just move on to some other creative work that you have going on in your studio. (Or just go clean some brushes!) I am not comfortable with my new work. I feel that I am taking big risks, and just leaping and hoping that the net will appear. I feel rather like I am wandering around lost with each new painting. And with this work, I need to revisit it many times to get the intensity of color, the richness, and the depth for which I am looking. I don’t know if it will get easier as I go along. That’s part of what I willfind out. 

But, I always did promise myself that I wouldn’t allow my work to get too comfortable, because I believe that, as an artist, youstop growing and making exciting work if you do that. Also, I am focusing on painful losses, and going deeply inward to try to find answers to questions that are difficult. It is a much more scary exploration for me. I have challenged myself to leave the ease of proficiency to seek new answers in my work.

 

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The preceding was from Marie Assante at R. Couri Hay Creative Public Relations

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