The Miami Project Fair during Art Basel Miami: New holographic work

Come check out my 2 new holographic pedestals during Art Basel Miami at The Miami Project Fair. I'll be exhibiting in booth #719 with Cooper Cole Gallery. The fair is on from December 4th-9th. Check their website for hours:

The Miami Project Art Fair Booth 719 / Cooper Cole Gallery 2951 NE 1st Ave. Miami, FL 33137

 DETAIL "Holographic Square" / 17" x 17" x 36" / acid-free foam board, holographic paper, glue, wood & paint / 2012

"Holographic Square" / 17" x 17" x 36" / acid-free foam board, holographic paper, glue, wood & paint / 2012

"Holographic Circle" / 20" x 20" x 35.5" / acid-free foam board, holographic paper, glue, wood & paint / 2012

Smithsonian's "40 Under 40" book

The Smithsonian American Art Museum's Renwick Gallery came out with a book of their current show that my work is included in "40 Under 40: Craft Futures". Here is the article and photos of the book. If you'd like a copy for yourself, the book is also available to purchase HERE.

"40 UNDER 40" group exhibition book Written by: Nicholas R. Bell

The politics of craft, often so close to the surface, are largely absent from the paper sculptures of Jen Stark. Rather than tackle the deficiencies of contemporary culture, these unexpected objects serve as psychic way stations--colorful oases for individuals to de-stress through the contemplation of joyful things. In this sense they take up anew the mantle of Fancy--boisterous and bright aesthetic movement of the early nineteenth century that reframed American decorative arts through a whimsical lens. The exploitation of vivid color and pattern was paramount then, and returns as the foundation of Stark's oeuvre.

The artist first turned to paper as a student seeking an affordable medium, and from a materials standpoint even her most complex works remain deceptively simple in their construction. Start stacks sheets of drawing paper in the order she wishes them to appear, then cuts into them one leaf at a time, finding rhythm in their expanding geometries. She cites fractals as an influence on her work, and it is easy to see the attention paid to such natural phenomena. The tight margins between layers of color mimic evolutionary progress--the smallest shifts altering the final makeup the whole.

Power of Being is indicative of Stark's eye-popping style. A six-pointed star leaps off the wall, lending the paper a dynamic topography, then trickles down in ragged layers to a distant root. Alternating color pairings are both playful and suggestive of the star's meaty past, while its lingering tail invokes the underbelly of an iceberg. It is only one trick up Stark's sleeve to convey depth through the slimmest of things. Piece of an Infinite Whole demonstrates the artist's ability to transform space through the stacking of paper. In this case she has broken through a wall, removing the piece from the actual gallery, as if the right combination of colors might open up a wormhole in otherwise staid white cube. This rupturing of the standard plane is a recurring theme in Stark's work, and marks a current of provocation running beneath the simple pleasure of viewing it.

Stark underscores the labor inherent to her medium in How to Become a Millionaire in 100 Days. Toying with this culture's get-rich-quick mentality, and the notion of wealth as the accumulation of currency (i.e., paper), she has individually cut one million pieces of paper and left them in a glorious pile of bespoke confetti. A quick calculation based on the title uncovers a working rate of ten thousand scraps cut per day, a pace that would make anyone blanch, and one that serves to highlight her physical as well as mental determination.

Ultimately, Stark's palette and her deft use of the knife enchant not only through their brilliance, but also through her transformation of the most common of materials into something unique. Functionally, these strange forms serve little purpose, but to lose them would also be to miss them as one misses the most practical of things. Such is the importance of our ability to escape down the nearest, brightest rabbit hole.

Talk at Chapman University

This Wednesday October 17, 2012 at 7 p.m. I'll give a talk on my work at Chapman University in Moulton Center 213. This event is free and open to the public. For more information, please call 714-997-6729. Visual Arts Thinkers Series Kicks-off with Jen Stark Wednesday October 17, 2012 at 7 p.m. in Moulton Center 213

Chapman University One University Drive Orange, CA 92866

More information HERE

To the Power Of: Installation Shots

Some installation shots from my solo show at Martha Otero Gallery. The show runs through Dec 1st, so if you're in LA come by.

(Installation view) photo by Brandon Shigeta

"Cosmic Distortion" / 22.5 x 22.5 x 36.5 in / Hand-cut acid-free paper, glue, wood, foam board / 2012 photo by Brandon Shigeta

"Prismatic Radiation" / 47 x 47 x 1 in / Wood, acrylic paint / 2012 photo by Brandon Shigeta

(Installation view) photo by Brandon Shigeta

"Whole" / 3 x 3 x 3.5 ft / Installation of hand-cut acid-free paper, foam board, glue / 2012

Martha Otero Gallery 820 N Fairfax Ave Los Angeles, CA 90046 #(323)951-1068


"To the Power Of" solo show in Los Angeles

Martha Otero Gallery is pleased to present Jen Stark’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles, To the Power Of.

Opening Reception is September 28th from 6-9pm. Show runs through December 10th.

Jen Stark’s work is instantly recognizable for its breathtaking color spectrums rendered in mind-bending forms cut from paper, wood and other organic materials.

Stark's sculptures seemingly reconstruct elements of time, nature and the cosmos on an exponential scale. She draws inspiration for her works from the rhythmic visual qualities of mandalas and other such sacred objects, while they simultaneously behave like the imagery of topographic maps, geometric repetitions and three-dimensional prisms. This aligns directly with her interest in mathematics: ‘to the power of…’ being a statement of exponential growth also infers the definition of ‘power’ as both the possession of physical or mental control and the fortitude to act decisively. Her unique experience working with fibers is displayed in her delicately constructed patterns, which resemble the flowing movements of fabric versus the perceived rigidity her actual core materials. Stark's unflinching attention to physical detail and a commitment to shaping the object into something far beyond its origins result in a body of work which borders on the unbelievable.

With each successive individual project, Stark becomes bolder in her efforts to lure viewers into her kaleidoscopic environments. The work stands alone as a signature piece of superior craftsmanship and imaginative prowess, but Stark remains conscious of how the work is inextricably bound to real space and time. In this vein, Stark pushes the envelope of visual art production, recalling both the psychedelic experience of Op Art and the endearment of handmade totems and mystic charms.

Jen Stark was born in Miami in 1983. She received her BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2005, with a concentration in fibers and a minor in animation. Stark was the 2008 recipient of the South Florida Cultural Consortium's Visual and Media Artist Fellowship and, in the same year, won first prize at MOCA North Miami's 10th annual Optic Nerve Film Festival. Stark's work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions in Chicago, New York, Toronto, Los Angeles, London and Miami. Stark has been the subject of televised interviews for PBS Arts, WLRN South Florida and the Wet Heat Project. Stark's work is held in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C., the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami, the West Collection in Oaks, Pennsylvania, and the Cricket and Martin Taplin Collection at the Sagamore Hotel in Miami Beach. Stark lives and works in Los Angeles.

For more information and artwork inquiries, please contact:

820 NORTH FAIRFAX AVENUE LOS ANGELES, CA 90046 t. 323 951 1068

Smithsonian American Art Museum: Renwick Gallery

I will have work included in the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery Anniversary Show called "40 Under 40: Craft Futures". The opening will be July 20th at 10am, with the curator’s talk at 12 noon, followed by a catalog signing. The show will run at the Renwick through February 2013, after which it will tour nationally at locations to be announced. You can find more information about the show and all of its artists on the show’s webpage here.  Check out a slideshow of all 40 artists here. The museum also intends to acquire my sculpture, pictured below. For more information, go to the exhibition page:

"Power of Being" / 64" x 25" x 5" / acid-free colored paper on wood / 2011

The Smithsonian American Art Museum: Renwick Gallery

Juxtapoz Magazine feature March 2012

Check out this awesome interview I'm in, written by Gabe Scott, in the March 2012 issue of Juxtapoz magazine. Feel free to read the entire interview in the text below the images: "While this singular aspect allows the sculptures immediately to command one’s attention, upon further observation, the viewer can easily find a quiet ambiance that reverberates in a deeply contemplative state.  Only gravity and spacial boundaries seem sure to limit the potential of her work, as her ability to shape, form and render appears infinite." —Gabe Scott

Gabe Scott: I think that the combination of places where you’ve studied and worked is really fascinating. You are a 3rd generation Miamian, and studied at the Maryland Institute of Art in Baltimore. I feel that most creative people are influenced strongly by their surroundings, climate and including weather. Is this true for your? How would you say the two very different urban areas have contributed to or influenced your work?

Jen Stark: I definitely think environment and upbringing can affect art-making. Growing up in Miami I experienced so many different cultures and their colorful energy probably rubbed off on me. Also in Miami, plants are green and thriving year-round, and I was always surrounded by an abundance of them. I think my interest in nature sparked my love of accumulation, layers and microscopic patterning. Because it seems that many people can become stagnant in Miami I decided to go to Baltimore for college, even though I had never visited, or even been in real snow before. I guess the cold weather and fear of crime rate sort of forced me to become creative in the studio, focus on my ideas and let loose the vibrancy! Also, I attribute the start of the paper sculptures to a study abroad trip I took to Aix en Provence, France.

Gabe: When you arrived in France, what was your intent as far as the direction of developing your work? Explain the circumstances, both financial and otherwise, that shaped your shift in direction and contributed to your evolution as an artist.

Jen: When I arrived I had no exact artistic direction. I knew I loved colors and labor intensive work, but hadn’t pin pointed my style yet. I brought two suitcases full of clothes and decided to purchase art supplies when I got there. The euro was very high, so when I went into the art store, I decided to buy one of the cheapest materials, but one that had potential. I purchased an assorted color stack of construction paper and began experimenting in my studio. Eventually, I began turning them into three-dimensional sculptures. Having little money to buy expensive art materials helped me become more creative with the supplies I had, and turn lemons into lemonade! It made me realize I could create artwork out of anything, as long as it was a unique idea and I worked hard at it. That was definitely a big turning point in my evolution as an artist. So, in this case, necessity allowed me to discover a new way of art-making.

Gabe: I sometimes start to give myself a headache, in a good way, trying to follow the geometric composition and spectrum in your pieces. Is mathematics an integral part of your process? Over the course of production, do you allow for much improvisation, or do you find it to be meticulous and orderly?

Jen: Yes! Math is a big part of my work, but I was never very good at it in school. I think I have a better understanding of visual math, and, in fact, every once in a while a mathematician will email me saying that one of my pieces looks just like a specific equation. I sketch the sculptures out before I create them, and there is usually not too much improvisation when constructing them. I might change tiny things but they end up very similar to the sketch. I make drawings too, and see these as more of a spontaneous, organic process. They allow both my mind and hands to take a break from the monotony of the sculptures. The sculptures are very orderly, but when I get in the swing there is a meditative quality in the repetition that I love.

Gabe: How would you characterize your work from a categorical perspective? Sculptural? Collage? Neither? Both A and B?

Jen: I would categorize my work as sculptural because I’m taking something two-dimensional and making it three-dimensional.

Gabe: In order to truly utilize the possibilities of something universally recognized as construction paper, you must have considerable knowledge of fibers and their science. Tell me how you developed this focus and how it is vital to your work. Why were you drawn specifically to this as a medium?

Jen: In college, I majored in Fibers. This usually throws people off because I mainly work in paper and wood, but Fibers at my college was more of a technique and concept-based major. They taught us the basics of things like sewing, screen-printing and weaving, but there was also a big emphasis on ideas, process and accumulation. All the Fibers majors had a love of time-intensive work, and I think that has connected us. I’ve always been drawn to intricate work and labor-intensive, handmade things, so discovering the paper sculptures was a gradual journey from age two to 28! I love how common and versatile paper is. It is in everyone’s daily lives and people tend to overlook the amazing things it can do and be transformed into. I also love the idea of taking something that’s two-dimensional and flat and making it three-dimensional and intricate. I’m still discovering things about my work, which is what keeps me going and makes it fun.

Gabe: I feel like your work imitates a lot of aspects of the natural world—topography, light, heat and gas spectrums, geodesic quantities as well as qualities employed by other natural forces like gravity or relativity. This obviously plays into the mathematical relationship with your process. Do you find yourself discovering similarities in these natural phenomena and their occurrences within your work as each piece unfolds, whether on paper initially or over the course of rendering a sculpture?

Jen: Yes! My work definitely emulates nature. I love how nature is a vast unknown that we have barely begun to understand. I hope to evoke a similar feeling of awe and mystery in my artwork. I enjoy the layers of topographical maps, and how naturally occurring micro designs can look the same as zoomed out macro images. All of these ideas of natural designs are in my head as I execute a sculpture, and they influence my cuts, colors and shapes. The sketches for the work have a bit of this in them, but they really come out in the details as I start creating the piece.

Gabe: You recently did a stop motion animation piece with soundsmith Dan Deacon for the PULSE fair in Los Angeles. How did that collaboration come about? Was this the first time you have animated your sculptures?

Jen: This is officially the third stop-motion animation I’ve created with paper. I’ve always loved animation and I enjoy the time-intensive process and hand cutting each sheet. I am essentially creating a paper sculpture, but instead of simply hanging on the wall and being static, it is animating and moving, and by the end it is pretty much a destroyed pile of cut-up paper.

Gabe: How does your ear translate things to your eye as far as the piece with Dan Deacon? If you are starting with a piece of music, especially one that has a sound collage impression, how do you feel your aural senses can influence your visual senses?

Jen: I’ve only done a few animations, but I try to just make the animation flow with the music. Dan Deacon’s was the first animation I created where I had the music before I began animating. The music is added in the end with others I’ve done. Doing an animation to Dan’s music fit well because the song he gave me was so fluid and almost seemed meditative, which worked well with the organic feel of my animations. It is hard to precisely match up the music with certain moments in the animation. I just take the mood of it and go from there, so it is not too much pressure.

Gabe: I feel like your work could lend itself quite well to outdoor installations on a grand scale, given the right weather resistant materials. With your interest in various aspects of the natural world, do you consider producing work that can exist as an intervention with the environment?

Jen: Yes, I would love to get into larger outdoor sculptures out of wood, metal, or plastic. It would be great to make big installation type work where the viewer can be immersed and actually walk through the piece out in nature. I am totally open to this and hope to do it someday soon! As far as recent outdoor projects, I just finished a huge 90' x 35' dripping psychedelic mural on the outside wall of the Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Art that was finished just in time for Art Basel Miami in early December, 2011.

Gabe: In respect to outdoor events, I had a dream that the topographically influenced aspects of your sculptures lead to you to ambitious long term projects that had a limited lifespan, a la Jean Claude and Christo. Could you foresee embarking on a kind of project that travels beyond the bounds of civic interaction and seeks to simultaneously engage in a dialogue with a specific natural landmark?

Jen: I would absolutely love to someday make a monumental artwork that transcends a gallery. Maybe something dealing with outer space or in the ocean would be great. There is an artist named Jason deCaires Taylor who sunk a bunch of human statues in the Yucatan ocean, which besides looking amazing, used material that encourages reef growth; so someday this sculpture will become a reef thriving with life. I love this idea, and it would be fantastic to someday create artwork at this sort of level, something dealing with both visual and environmental benefits.

Gabe: You’re currently living and working right in the middle of what seems to be a pretty adventurous art scene in Miami—I think people are most familiar with it during Basel and the satellite fairs, which I’m sure is not an appropriate slice of normal life there. How would you describe it in terms of soul, style and character?

Jen: Yes, Miami is very different outside of Basel. Lots of local artists here complain that Basel doesn’t give enough exposure to the real art scene, and that visitors just put up walls, sell art, get drunk and leave. That’s true in a way, but I also think Basel has been a good thing for Miami’s development and helped create more interest in the art scene here. Miami is a fairly young city. There is South Beach on one side, the Florida Everglades on the other, and the Florida Keys to the south, which all make it a pretty diverse and unique environment. Miami is full of things like beaches, tourists, good Cuban food, thunderstorms, tropical plants, and beautiful clouds. It’s not an easy place to be successful doing your own thing, but if you are able to, it is easier to stand out than say in NYC or LA. In terms of art, Miami has a blossoming community that has a lot of great things happening, but also has its weeds. There are a lot of mediocre galleries that tend to pop up once an area gets popular. But if you sift through these and know where to look, there are some great energizing collaborations and art shows happening here. Overall, I’m excited to be living here and have some other awesome Miami friends who are doing great things like FREEGUMS, FriendsWithYou, Frances Trombly, Jim Drain, Bert Rodriguez, Little River CSA and Nick D. Lobo, among others.

Gabe: What would you tell people that Miami has to offer that most outsiders aren’t aware of? And what should they pay more attention to the next time they find themselves there, both as an art community as well as socially and culturally?

Jen: It’s hard to know how day-to-day Miami really is if you only come during the fair. I would suggest trying to make it out to artists studios, visit and talk to them. Otherwise, try to meet the locals, see where we hang out and don’t get caught up in too much partying! I also recommend coming to Miami at a more slow paced time outside of the fairs.

Spectra I at Future Tense (London) opening Nov 24

I'm excited to announce that I'll be in my first UK group show in London at Future Tense opening November 24th. The show is called "Spectra I" and I'll be showing alongside artists Lee Baker, Adam Ball, Chuck Elliott, Katrin Fridriks, Haroshi, and James Marshall. Should be an amazing show so if you're in London, stop by and see it! Show runs through December 18th.

Opening Reception November 24th from 6-9pm

Check out more info here:

Hi-Fructose Magazine

Here is a nice 11 page spread of my work in a contemporary art magazine called HI-FRUCTOSE (volume 20): "The Hypothetical Universe of Jen Stark"   by Jennifer Pappas

The first time I heard the term ‘paper engineer’ was in 2005, in reference to an exhibition of pop-up books at the Center for the Book in San Francisco. Infatuated with letterpress and bookbinding, I was one of the Center’s many volunteers at the time. Once a week, I sorted type, cleaned Vander Cooks and cut down paper in exchange for free studio hours. That day, I was helping set up the new exhibit, placing glass cases over hand-made books with extravagant, avant-garde pop-up methods. For some reason, the combination of ‘paper’ and ‘engineer’ really worked a number on my imagination, and I daydreamed about what I would say to such a magical person, should I ever meet one face to face.

Jen Stark is my own personal paper engineer. Though what she creates is probably better categorized as sculpture, her bright, eye-popping paper works are a feat all the same, each one built — layer by layer — completely by hand. Unlike your typical architect, however, Stark builds new models of the universe, reconstructing the elements of time, nature and the cosmos with construction paper and glue. Some works give the illusion of light speed, while others connote the bleeding or leaking of time. Each one includes the added stimuli of woozy edges, mind-bending color arrangements and other visual tomfoolery. Stark’s sculptures contain a metaphysical quality that’s not only fun to look at, but invites inquiry.

Need proof? Pedestal is a leap down the rabbit hole, while Counter Cosmo could represent the death throes of a supernova. Sunken Sediment resembles a wormhole or portal, some sort of fantastic shortcut to the future. Centrifugal is suggestive of a topographical map used to show earthquake activity or some type of intergalactic cold front. On the Inside could be a reference to tree rings.  In short, Stark’s work is a kaleidoscope of layers leading into geometric-shaped utopias of the past, present, future and infinity. Pinwheels, teardrops and stars cascade, implode, drip and expand into rainbows of impossible possibilities. Sculpture after sculpture, rainbow after rainbow, the mind games continue. And Stark likes it that way. “There is so much out there that we don't know about, and I hope to reveal some sort of magical secret of it in my artwork. I love the mystery of science and the universe. Wormholes, dark holes, infinity! What does it mean?”

Universal conundrums aside, one thing is clear: Jen Stark’s universe is definitely heating up. Features in Nylon, New American Paintings and The Miami Herald, along with several prestigious awards in recent years has solidified her as a bona fide artist on the rise. A third-generation Miami native, Stark received her BFA from Baltimore’s Maryland Institute College of Art in 2005. She spent her junior year studying abroad in the south of France. This experience, coupled with the reality of a weak dollar led her to the materials she continues to use and tweak today. “I went over there [Aix en Provence] with a couple of suitcases of clothes, figuring I'd get art supplies when I arrived. The Euro was high and everything was expensive, so I decided to get the cheapest material I could find, but one with potential. It was a stack of construction paper. I went back to my studio to experiment and the sculptures were born.” The results are marvelous interventions of paper, color, and the space-time continuum. Following her tenure in France, Stark returned home to Miami, where she’s currently based. Not a bad place to be if you’re a young, up-and-coming contemporary artist with a distinct style.

Best known for her sculpture work, Stark’s pen and ink drawings are equally vibrant and alive. Consisting of squiggles, loops, swirls, mitochondria and triangles, the drawings are a physical and creative respite from the tedium of cutting, folding and pasting.  “I tend to make sculptures more than drawings, but not by much more. I like to do them equally, and think of them as a break from the other. The drawings are more spontaneous and allow me to rest my hand a bit. The sculptures are more organized and structured, and I do the same hand movements over and over, so simultaneously being able to work on the drawings gives me freedom and change.” Whatever the reason, I’m slightly envious of the drawings; she’s the best doodler I’ve ever seen. And judging from the forms that unwind, she’s probably good at geometry too – double envy. Hypnotic, yet engaging, Stark’s drawings and sculptures appeal to the obsessive compulsive bubbling away in all of us. Much is made of the time it takes to hand-cut each layer of each sculpture, and her drawings appear equally time-consuming. Stark’s unabashed use of color appeals to the same innate cry for stimulus. “I love colors and how they interact with each other.” Stark says. “I love the effects they have when you place them side by side and they make your eyes twitch. Color is the thing that grabs your attention, and I like playing with this fact.”



Stark’s inquest of the universe works in tandem with life here on Earth. Many of her sculptures mimic the organic forms found in nature. The intricacies of a flower petal, the mathematics of a spider web, the orderliness of tree rings — each, if looking intuitively enough can be found in both her sculptures and drawings. All the more ideal then that the material she chooses to work in is not only common but natural. Everyday construction paper and the patience of a saint are her primary tools of trade. It’s the way she confounds an ordinary form, however, that makes her work so compelling. While most artists work with their hands and deal in transformation, Stark takes it to a whole new level, cutting, folding, and assembling one of the most common things we know into extraordinary, magical, scientific flights of fancy, each layer revealing just a tiny bit more of a seemingly unknowable universe. In what may be the first and only time I ask, “Do you believe in time travel?” during an interview, Stark responds thoughtfully, “I believe that light travels, and with that, images from moments in time can move through space.  If you're able to outrun it, you're able to see the past and "time travel".  I'm fascinated by these types of unsolved questions.”

Double Rainbow Rainbow, a dual show with Maya Hayuk at the Show & Tell Gallery in Toronto opened May 12th and is Stark’s most recent show to date. “The work in the show focuses on symmetry, radiant colors, and positive energy.” Stark explains. “We each work with different mediums that evoke macro and micro science, holograms, and Rorschach tests, with hypnotic, sacred and sensual results. I did some drawings, sculptures and a new animation with music by Dan Deacon.” While the concept sounds simple enough, the show is proof that Stark is continuing to branch out, experimenting with stop-animation, wooden dowels and foam core, further complicating her geometry while forming deeper connections with the viewer. Despite its apparent limitations, construction paper continues to present a myriad of possibilities. Stark describes the evolution of her work as thus: “My work has become more intricate and I'm focusing more on the viewer interacting with the work. I want the artwork to become more of an installation, and seem to change as your view changes. I’m excited about trying to out-do the last piece I made. I want my work to keep growing and inspiring people.”

At one point during the interview, Stark surprises me by quoting Nietzsche. I think about it for days before deciding that her comment makes a lot of sense in the grand scheme of her work. “Would you categorize your work as playful?” I ask, wondering if the question is a cop-out in lieu of some deeper analysis on her use of color. “Yes, you can call my work playful.” She responds. “Here’s a really great quote by Nietzsche: ‘Maturity means to rediscover the seriousness one had as a child at play.’"

While I’d read this particular quote before, coming from Stark in this context, I reflected on its meaning in a different light. Considering the overwhelming mysteries of the cosmos, time, memory and science, aren’t we all just children at play, wondering at the staggering marvel that is everyday life? Aren’t we all trying to make sense of things in a language — visual or otherwise — that makes sense? If so, Jen Stark’s paper rainbow sculptures are just another means for understanding the great mysteries of life, one lovely scrap of paper at a time.

PUSH Paper Book

My work was featured in a new book "PUSH Paper : 30 Artists Explore the Boundaries of Paper Art". Take a look: