Jenna Fettig, The Living Rock, burn etching on wood with found objects, 15" w x 10" d x 9" h
American, b. 1981, playing from Olympia, WA, USA
Jenna Fettig lives in Olympia, Washington and studied art and natural sciences at the Evergreen State College. Jenna works with oil and watercolor paint, burn etching, fiber and natural objects. Since 2003, Jenna's work has examined the relationships that human animals have with their natural world and its roots in Victorian England. Her work exaggerates the seperation of people from their environment by exploring the lasting effects of the Victorian naturalist movement to collect, classify, display and conquer.
Thoughts on the Telephone process
Telephone is not my first experience collaborating with other artists but it was very different than from the previous experiences I had working collaboratively. In the past, I've worked with multiple artists to produce one peice of work. With Telephone, I was doing that because there is the aspect of the project being one large peice of work. Conversely, there is also the opportunity to produce a single peice of work and retain more control of it. There is also the problem of balancing the large picture with the individual work.
When I received my assignment, my first urge was to instantly respond to the previous artist's aesthetic. I have thought of myself as a painter for several years and my assignment was responding to a film. I produce a static image and this work was moving and changing. It had a beginning and an end. It was hard to let go of the medium and aesthetic of the work and just look at the message. Eventually I was able to break it down and examine the content rather than the context. I had a few false starts responding to the project with paintings. I was also trying to make the finished work fit in with a series of paintings I was working on. I wasn't happy with any of the results. I asked myself to respond to the work outside the constrainsts of my current series.
I had reduced the film to three simple words - a concept: the living rock. I rolled these words around in my head and forgot about wood panels and paintbrushes and just let something else happen. I think that what happened was that I forget about oil paints and cohesive bodies of work and went straight to the root of my creativity - my voice.
The resulting work surprised me because although the medium was unlike anything I had done recently, the themes that my work typically examines was so clearly represented in this work. For many years I have been examining the seperation of humans and nature and the Victorian roots of this seperation. My telephone work is a very literal interpretation of this theme - nature on display in a box. I believe it examines the ideas of the film I was presented with which presents a dynamic and changing landscape on a human body, framing land as a living and breathing object while also pointing to the connection that humans have with their natural environments. But there is another side to this story and that is the human urge to domesticate and contol nature, the urge to make objects from the environment into a neat and tidy package that can be displayed in the home.