New article in Glamour Italia featuring Miami artists:
As Miami rapidly grows into the new mecca for public arts, creatives are beginning to flock for inspiration and a chance to be recognized in a community without much competition. When you hear the words "street art," typically one thing comes to mind: illegal graffiti, however we are living in a new age, a new reign of public artists and activists. While the act of graffiti is still very much alive and well throughout the world, there is a very significant difference for visual artists who utilize the streets and public spaces to share their messages of beauty and hope for a better society.
All three of these born and bread Miami visual artists work within multiple mediums including public walls, but not one of them derived from graffiti culture. However, their work crosses paths in the streets and throughout the world beautifying our public spaces, sidewalks and skylines.
Statistically speaking, women creatives have been forced to work double as hard as any male artist to hopefully get the same recognition. With that said, our time is now, our time is here and we have very important conversations to ignite with art, it's only the beginning of this revolution. In the future there will be no "female artists," there will just be artists.
Initially Jen Stark's large scale work public spaces in Los Angeles and Miami drew me to her, and to discover her kaleidoscope universe, but then I fell in love Her use of optical color waves in memorizing patterns has the ability to hypnotize you while unintentionally leaving a smile on your face. The narrative may seem abstract to the viewer but her intention is not only to make beautiful pieces of art but also use her art to create a greener planet.
Q & A:
You went to art school in Maryland at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), where you majored in Fibers and minored in Animation. How did your studies there influence your practice as a visual artist?
After graduating high school in 2001 I decided to attend MICA in Baltimore. I took classes in many different departments (General Fine Arts, Sculpture, Ceramics, etc) but eventually settled on Fibers because it was such an open major and had amazing professors like: Annet Couwenberg and Susie Brandt. We were taught many different standard techniques in Fibers (like sewing, dyeing, felting, weaving, etc) but were encouraged to experiment with whatever concepts and materials we were interested in. Most Fibers majors shared a love of repetition and detail oriented work. It was a very open major and I loved that about it, since I could explore any theme and medium I wanted. It helped me discover and refine my love of layered repetition with paper and other materials. I still use the techniques I learned in college to create my work today.
Many female artists across the world are only just receiving their recognition. How do you feel about this shift in attitude?
I think the time is finally here for women to be seen as equals all around the world. We have been unfairly suppressed and judged for far too long. I think electing a president that is so misogynistic was a huge shock and outrage for many of us, but it is shining light on these realities and forcing us to face them and be inspired to create change. In the art world, women artists are constantly under represented. I think we still have a long road ahead of us, but it is slowly beginning to change. It's great that these issues are finally getting some light.
Have you had many role models in your professional career?
Many of my teachers and family members have been important role models for me. My grandpa helped fueled my passion for art. He was a watercolor painter, who liked to paint things like sailboats, the everglades, landscapes and birds. My parents also nurtured that creative side of me, and put me in art classes throughout my whole life. I'm inspired by the artwork of Yayoi Kusama, Sol Lewitt, Tara Donovan, Tom Friedman, Andy Goldsworthy and Ernst Haeckel among others.
You have commonly, but selectively, worked in highly public places, like the Miami International Airport and at Miami’s Hardrock Stadium. What are a few of the misconceptions about being a visual artist, who occasionally works on walls? And do you feel as though being incorrectly classified as a “street artist” can actually hinder your fine art career?
I think being an artist in today's world means working in many different mediums, genres and challenging the idea of a conventional gallery artist or street artist. Being a 'street artist' in the art world has a stigma attached to it. I feel like some artists get pigeon-holed into this one category and it somehow feels tainted in the art world. I've painted some outdoor murals, but I've also shown my work in galleries & museums and try to push the boundaries on the definition of art. The art world is constantly changing and evolving, and I feel the people who create 'rules' on an artists career path have a dated way of thinking. I try not to concern myself too much with what people say, and just keep moving forward in my own way and pursuing my dreams.
I know that creating a more sustainable and greener planet is a very important characteristic in your artistic practice. Do you have any advice for other artists on how they can incorporate this into their work, and how even the smallest change can create a large impact as an artist?
Living a more sustainable life and being in harmony with nature is very important to me. I try to do this both in both my personal and professional life. I'm trying to bring some big renewable energy ideas to fruition in my large scale artwork. Its important we make changes now to help our environment and the planet stay healthy. Even small changes, like trying to choose more biodegradable, non-toxic materials and lowering our carbon footprint will be important steps. Not supporting wasteful and toxic companies is another way to make a difference. It begins with changes in our personal lives, and I feel it is an artists responsibility to bring awareness to these issues.
My newest mirrored piece is on view at Over The Influence in Los Angeles until September 5th: Infinity Spiral, 2018, laser cut mirrored acrylic, epoxy, wood, 96 x 96 in.
Taking the name from the second chapter of Germaine Greer’s landmark text “The Obstacle Race” from 1979, “How They Ran” brings together a selected group of LA-based artists whose diverse practices represent the heartbeat of the Los Angeles art scene today. Greer’s book presented an art historical account of artists who are missing from academic literature and how they overcame historical obstacles to achieve notoriety anyway. Through this lens, Over the Influence will present a group exhibition of LA-based artists from different backgrounds, practices, and generations.
The artists featured in “How They Ran” are Miya Ando, Amanda Maciel Antunes, Lisa Anne Auerbach, Uta Barth, Whitney Bedford, Tanya Brodsky, Kelly Brumfield-Woods, Jo Ann Callis, Katy Cowan, Dinah Diwan, Francesca Gabbiani, Mercedes Helnwein, Pamela Smith Hudson, Barbara Kruger, Alice Lang, Hilary Pecis, Ke Peng, Vanessa Prager, Monique Prieto, Jennifer Rochlin, Anja Salonen, Kim Schoenstadt, Ali Silverstein, Jen Stark, Kerry Tribe, Lesley Vance, Lisa Diane Wedgeworth, and Megan Whitmarsh.
My artwork is featured on the cover of American Craft Magazine "The Color Issue" for their August/September 2018 issue. It includes a great 8 page article "Good Vibrations" by Neil Janowitz. Cover Photo by Rony Alwin.
I'm thrilled to have some flower pots & reversible tote bags at the LA Original Pop-up Shop at MOCA!
Launch party is Thursday, July 12th at MOCA: 250 S Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA
Join us to celebrate the launch of our latest pop-up shop at the MOCA Store, featuring a new selection of LA Original products designed by some of LA's dynamic makers and artists. Our summer collection, which includes everything from decorative housewares to street apparel, is a technicolor reflection of our city's incredible creative community. A percentage of the proceeds will go to MADE by DWC, a social enterprise operated by the Downtown Women's Center (DWC) that provides job training and transitional employment in product and retail environments for women transitioning out of homelessness. LA Original is a pilot program of the Mayor's Fund for Los Angeles and Mayor's Office of Economic Development in support of LA's unique, local creative economy.
I created a new book: "Sketchbook: 2015-2017" (limited edition of 10) for the Art on Paper Fair in New York.
Tahiti Pehrson, Michelle Blade, Emma Kohlmann, Chris Duncan, Alexis Anne Mackenzie, Langdon Graves, Edie Fake, Serra Victoria Bothwell Fels, Neil Farber and Michael Dumontier, Michael Velliquette, Jessie Rose Vala, Kevin Hooyman, Hilary Pecis, Thomas Campbell, Jen Stark, Alexis Beauclair, Icinori, Nathaniel Russell, Anthea Belm, Heather Benjamin, Kelie Bowman, Sto Len, Brendan Monroe, Kim Schifino, Brian Chippendale, Christian Gfeller, Anna Hellsgard, Elaine Su-Hei, Golnar Adili
"Tunnel Vision" a 20ft x 5ft x 5ft outdoor public sculpture. On view through April 22nd, 2018.
Commissoned by Santa Monica Cultural Affairs and curated by LeBasse Projects
120 Colorado Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Designed by Jen Stark, “Tunnel Vision” is a tunnel of cascading ring shapes that morph shape and color. The front of the sculpture begins as an organic inner shape, which slowly morphs into a circle in the back. From one perspective, the sculpture is colored in a vivid rainbow gradient. The opposite end of the sculpture changes color scheme into black and white, creating an optical illusion and two unique perspectives of the piece. In this revealed element of surprise, viewers are encouraged walk around and interact with the sculpture. The sculpture also provides an oasis for neighbors and visitors to sit, relax and contemplate. Commissioned by Santa Monica Cultural Affairs through their ROAM series of temporary art installations. Curated by LeBasse Projects.
New print "Holographic Gradient" available here. Limited edition of 150.
2 Color Hand Printed Serigraph, each is a 5 color split fountain. Printed on Mirri Rainbow 280gsm acid-free, archival holographic paper. Each print is hand pulled and no 2 prints are exactly alike. Holographic effect changes depending on lighting & surroundings.
Completed a new 27 x 200 ft. mural "Chromatic Cascade" in the downtown LA arts district, located at 1828 Conway Pl. Los Angeles, CA 90021
I just designed a new limited edition speaker for Ultimate Ears. Get it HERE
Ultimate Ears announces the first artist edition UE ROLL 2 speaker, Drippy UE ROLL 2, designed by renowned American artist Jen Stark. Created to celebrate the relationship between movement and sound, the limited edition Drippy UE ROLL 2 was inspired by prismatic colors and nature.
"Jen Stark’s Colors of Consciousness"
A studio visit with photographer Pat Martin
Interview by Annisha Lashan
Read the whole interview HERE
Miami-born, LA-based contemporary artist Jen Stark burst into popularity through her recent collaboration with Miley Cyrus and Wayne Coyne on the music video “Lighter.” Working with ecstatic color palettes, there’s a galvanizing subtext of psychedelic shamanism and dimensional of consciousness interwoven through every piece. Articulating her style by layering colored paper in repetition, she turns two-dimensional material into three-dimensional sculptures. It’s an artform Jen fell into by happenstance during a brief semester abroad in the south of France, when construction paper was all she could afford. Fueled by a love and deep fulfilment from the process, Stark continued into what is now a very successful career, with major solo exhibits across North America. With boundless curiosity and a sense of wonder for the intangible, Stark offers an eloquent opinion on art as a method of meditation and on finding balance as a modern-day artist.
“I’ve always had a deep fascination for nature and how it relates to science and spirituality.”
On transcendence through art. For me, the act and process of creating art is just as important as the final product. My art practice is very meditative and brings me to a trance-like state when I’m creating – especially with very repetitive tasks. Art is an expression of my inner fantasies, dreams and thoughts. Creating art pushes me to brainstorm and challenge myself, which is very therapeutic and helps me understand myself better. With much of my work, I’m diving into questions about the universe and consciousness and trying to understand what it is all about and why it exists. I’m trying to reach that transcendental state through artwork.
For Jen, nature inspires. Much of my work is inspired by the natural world. In nature, color is a way to get someone’s attention – from a poisonous frog warning a predator off with its vibrant color patterns, to a ripe, red berry ready to be eaten. To me, color brings a sense of awe and wonder. I’ve always had a deep fascination for nature and how it relates to science and spirituality. I feel there is a parallel between different shapes within our universe: like how the Fibonacci spiral equation relates to so many things in nature – from the shape of shell to how a fern unfurls. Sacred geometry is a big inspiration in my work. Lately, the psychedelic world and the mysteries of consciousness are things that have been most prevalent in my work and thoughts. Through my work, I’m trying to create a bridge between all these magical things, and hopefully, make a great discovery or inspire others.
“Working with Miley Cyrus was a fun cosmic coincidence…”
On her process. Typically, I sit down at my studio desk and begin sketching ideas in my sketchbook. I write down lots of words in addition to images. Then, once I pin down a favorite idea, I’ll begin to create it. If it is a paper sculpture, I’ll cut each layer out by hand with an exacto knife and sequentially put it together. If it is a painting, I’ll hand-sketch the lines with a pencil, then mark what each color should be with a tiny dot. Then, I’ll have assistants help me color them in. Much of my work is very labor-intensive, so process is a big part of it.
On the career of a modern day artist. Today’s art world seems very different than it used to be. Artists can have more freedom now and write their own rules. The internet definitely helps by connecting people to each other. I balance both the art and business side and realize both are important to keep growing and being able to do exactly what I want to do. I think it’s important to be able to fund the work but not create work that is purely a commodity. I think it’s important to create great work that challenges and inspires. As long as I am creating work that I believe in and am inspired by, I feel like others will see its importance and the business side will in turn follow.
On gaining popularity. Working with Miley Cyrus was a fun cosmic coincidence. I had met her one night through my friend Wayne Coyne (Flaming Lips), and a couple of days later, MTV was pitching my work to her for the VMAs. It felt like it was meant to be and was a good psychedelic match. She has a very creative vision and is a free spirit who speaks her mind and knows what she wants. That project was surreal and really helped my art grow and think outside of the box. I’ve had a lot more eyes on my work because of that exposure, which has been amazing.
A new interview is up for my Standard Hotel flag project. Read the interview and see more photos HERE
"The Radiating, Meditative Magic of LA Artist Jen Stark" Interview by Lisa Solberg
LISA SOLBERG: You just did a project for The Standard called “Radiate.” What inspired it and how did the idea come about?
JEN STARK: The Standard contacted me because they wanted to do something to commemorate all of the progress the LGBT community has made. Since my work is very colorful and rainbow, they thought it could be an amazing match. We decided to do a flag on their rooftop. I called it “Radiate” because my work has a lot of energy in it and seems to propel forward.
It radiates like the sun.
Yes, exactly. It’s kind of a simple design—it’s like my work minimized to the very core. I wanted to help empower that community. It’s this perfect, beautiful storm that worked out amazingly.
Was that your first time your work has been tied to the LGBT community?
I think so, yes.
The wormhole that you did for Miley Cyrus’ MTV Video Awards was so cool. How did that collaboration come together?
It was a weird coincidence. I had met Miley through my friend Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips, and he’s best friends with her—they’re really tight. He invited me over to her house one day, we hung out, and she liked my work. A few days later, I got a text from a random number and it was Miley texting me an image of her in front of a billboard with my artwork on it for MTV. She asked, “Is something you’d want to do?”
So she had already put it together for you?
Yes, and it was still a big secret that she was hosting the award show. Coincidentally, MTV presented her with my work about three days after we met. They told her, “This artist is cool. She’s psychedelic. We think she could be a perfect fit.” And Miley was like, “Whoa, that’s crazy—I just met her.” So after that I was onboard. Miley is so cool. She’s very free and does her own thing. She’s a very psychedelic person, too.
What does it mean to be a psychedelic person?
She just does what she wants.
That’s definitely a difficult thing for a lot of people to do.
Yes, especially celebrities.
Miley is a very pronounced feminist and such a strong female icon. How do you relate to feminism, if at all?
I think I am a feminist. I’ve never labeled myself as one. I don’t really like labeling myself, but I think I am. The older I get, the more feminist I become by just empowering women and trying to make things more equal in the world.
Maybe it’s realizing what an impact you have on so many other females.
That’s what it’s all about—inspiring other people, and inspiring young women, that’s amazing. Young women and girls are seeing what another woman can achieve, and I think that’s incredible.
Would you say that your artwork is emotional or spiritual for you?
I wouldn’t say it’s emotional because once I make it I’m not really attached to it like a lot of other artists. I just get it out in the world and I want other people to see it. I would say it’s more spiritual and meditative. It’s more about the process of brainstorming and coming up with the ideas. That’s the fun part for me. Psychedelia, consciousness, where we came from, mysteries of the universe—I plant all of those ideas in my work.
You produce a ton of work, and it’s obvious that it would be impossible for you to do that all on your own.
In order to execute big ideas I think it’s good to have help. In the beginning of my art practice, I was hesitant to bring other people into it because I was controlling. I didn’t want it to suffer from other people’s help. But it’s been the opposite. Other people’s help has been amazing and has helped me grow. My work still has my hands in it. I’ll always make sure the backbone of it has me, and I’ll always work on the pieces, too.
When you’re constructing a project, do you have a layout for it?
Well, for the drip pattern, for instance, I’ll actually draw all of the lines by hand, and others color them in. With paper sculptures, I’ll do the cutting myself because it’s kind of impossible for someone else to do that part—it would look like their hand. But then I’ll have help putting it together when it comes to the tedious stuff, like the in-between layers that you don’t see, or the gluing.
Do you feel free in the iconic Jen Stark aesthetic system? Your style has evolved, but it’s very Jen Stark.
I definitely feel free in that. It’s amazing to be able to have my own style and to have it evolve and have people recognize that. I guess my main styles would be the paper sculptures, the intricate cutting designs, and the dripping, but I do like to keep pushing and challenging myself. I will definitely keep evolving. I wouldn’t want to do the same thing over and over my whole life.
In one of your past interviews, you said that accessibility is really important to you.
I would love to keep doing more public art because I think that’s the most powerful, and people don’t have to go into a gallery or a museum to view it. I would like to keep pushing that and also do some really huge outdoor public sculptures that incorporate some kind of renewable energy.
Do you mix your colors, or are they straight out of the bottle?
With my rainbow schemes, I’ll usually mix because it’s hard to get the perfect color. But with a lot of the random colors, I’ll just try to use colors straight out of the bottle because it’s easy. As long as they’re opaque enough and I like the color it’s cool.
Is there some sort of color theory, or do you just go with what you feel?
I took color theory in college, so I absorbed all of that, but in my own way of choosing colors, it’s very instinctual. I’ll just know what colors to put next to each other. Usually it deals with contrasting, light and dark hues, stuff like that, but it’s pretty much just my brain deciding. I normally don’t have to think about it too hard.
Do you ever get sick of color?
No. I don’t use color everywhere in my life. Right now my bedroom is very white and clean with a lot of green plants. I don’t immerse myself in a crazy amount of color. I think it’s like a good balance. I haven’t gotten sick of it.
I think about ADD and ADHD a lot because I find it really hard to sit down for more than ten minutes. What sort of methods do you use to stay focused? I’m sure you have to really stay put for long periods of time.
I don’t have ADHD, which is good because I can focus a lot longer. I think I have a lot of self-discipline. I have a meditation practice that I’ve been doing for about a year. It helps to meditate twice a day—twenty minutes each time if I’m good.
What’s coming up for you?
I’m going to have a solo show in New York at the Eric Firestone Gallery this the fall. I’m also going to start making clothing. It’s in the very beginning stages, but in the next couple of months I’ll start coming out with some drippy outfits and stuff like that. It’s going to be through my website. I have a friend helping with the screenprinting, so I’ll have all of the artistic creative freedom and he is executing it. We’re thinking it will come out in the next couple of months.