Studio 360

The radio show 'Studio 360' recently posted an article about my work on their blog. Check out the post HERE.

Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 12.39.46 PM

Psychedelic Paper Art or High-Level Math?

By Sruthi Pinnamaneni

Jen Stark's lush paper landscapes seem both psychedelic and scientific. Using trippy shapes and colors, she draws you into a place of quiet mystery. It's the kind of work that's equally at home on the covers of science magazines and billboards.

Mathematicians, in particular, get rather touchy feely about Stark's work — they send her notes comparing her sculptures to complex equations and theories of infinity. One e-mailed her a paper by Cornell University mathematician Karen Vogtmann, pointing out the similarities between Stark's Burst and Vogtmann's concept of Outer Space. That's not the space we know with the sun and the stars but rather a mathematical idea. An Outer Automorphism is a collection of groups, each filled with ways to map points of an object to itself, while maintaining the object’s deeper structure. It can get your brain all twisted up just thinking about it and so can Stark’s art objects.

Stark is not a mathematician or scientist. She studied art in Maryland and in 2004, spent a summer in Aix-en-Provence. She found she couldn’t afford French pastels or oil paints, so she bought blocks of kiddy construction paper and began cutting. The meticulous, sequential work felt meditative, Stark says.

A single sculpture can take months to finish, built layer by wafer-thin layer. Stark makes everything by hand and has to pace herself so she doesn’t wreck her fingers. She's come up with a few cheats: she wears mittens and pads her X-Acto knife with cotton balls. Having a sense of humor helps too. For one sculpture, Stark cut 10,000 shapes of paper every day for 100 days. The title of the piece: How to Become a Millionaire in 100 Days.

New York Times

The New York Times Magazine posted a photo of my new public art billboard on their blog. It is a full city project organized through Art City "Way Out West".

In San Francisco, where tensions between established artist communities and Silicon Valley continue to rise, Luke Groesbeck, a former tech worker and the founder of the fledgling public art organization Art City, wants to help his hometown reinvest in the former. “This is a city with a major arts and cultural legacy,” he says. “How do we honor that? Then an idea came up and I got fixated on it: What happens when you turn an entire city into a gallery? Is it possible?”

From now until Aug. 17, San Franciscans will get to find out. As part of Art City’s Way Out West project, Groesbeck, along with his crew of curators and organizers, worked with advertising companies and the local creative community to coordinate his organization’s pilot urban art takeover. Eleven billboards, four buses and three transit shelters in the Mission District are being resurfaced with works from 20 artists, many of whom have long-running involvements in San Francisco’s street art scene. These include the graffiti artist Apex, whose works live on building walls near major streets like Valencia, and members of the Mission School movement like Chris Johanson and Alicia McCarthy, who began collecting praise in the ’90s for their Sol LeWitt-like installations of busy, ribboned color.

The project isn’t just about the pieces themselves. It’s also about what they’ll replace: advertising. “Today, San Francisco has about 7,500 ad spaces, which reach tens of millions of people in a given month,” Groesbeck explains. “We’re doing this to illustrate a different possible future, where in each neighborhood we’re instead surrounded by art and contemporary art plays a major role in our lives.”

The subject of art versus commerce is a timely one in the Bay Area, especially in the once-gritty, rapidly gentrifying Mission. “Artists, musicians and other creatives that make San Francisco what it is are being pushed out,” says Brett Amory, an internationally exhibited artist and local resident who is also participating in the project. “The Mission District is one of the areas getting hit hardest by this change. It’s a very appropriate place to have art by local artists displayed, as a reminder of what the city is really made of.”

Groesbeck, for his part, thinks the project will help San Francisco remember its roots. “I think this is a way to do something positive,” he says, “and hopefully, give back to the city.”


NOW Toronto Article



Into the vortex: Three-dimensional spirals inspire

By David Jager

Into the vortex: Three-dimensional spirals inspire by David Jager Los Angeles-based artist Jen Stark doesn’t hang her work in galleries; she creates inter-dimensional rifts in their walls. Occupying a wholly original territory between painting and sculpture, she literally builds her complex vortices into walls or pedestals, giving the impression that they’ve opened into rainbow hued wormholes. Behind each of these manifestations is a daunting degree of meticulous craftsmanship, handicraft and math. Stark’s three-dimensional spirals and eye-brain workouts are derived from a mix of sacred geometry and fractals painstakingly reconstructed by hand using brightly coloured paper, foam board and glue. It’s Stark’s patient commitment to detail that lends her works their hallucinatory vividness. The geometrically precise swirl of Vortextural is made all the more compelling by the ambiguous rainbow-hued shapes around its rim. She skirts the chaotic edge of her mathematically precise constructions in ways that make them more playful. And she’s not afraid to revel in the pure joy of colour running wild, as in Drippy, where it appears that a prismatic glob of colours has started to literally run down the wall from the gallery ceiling. Dimension makes its visual impact with more restraint and elegance. A series of concentric rings suspended by threads to form a receding tunnel floating in mid-air, it evokes the colour spectrum and its perceptual trickery. Circling around it, however, you’re surprised to discover that the far side has been rendered in black and white, a monochrome inversion of the same work. Pulsating, mathematically complex geometries bursting with colour are things we associate with waving glow sticks at 4 am. Stark gives these old psychedelic tropes a conceptual retrofit, infusing them with a clean, playful, contemporary edge.


A new interview on my new show "Vortextural" at Cooper Cole Gallery. Written by Shellie Zhang. Enjoy!


Screen Shot 2013-07-20 at 12.08.54 AM


Screen Shot 2013-07-20 at 12.09.07 AM


Interview with Jen Stark (J.S) by Shellie Zhang (S.Z)

Recognized by their mesmerizing spirals, loud colours, and op-art attributes, Jen Stark’s paper sculptures draws inspiration from an array of natural phenomenons within mathematics, nature, and cosmic space. Her current solo exhibition at the COOPER COLE Gallery demonstrates a continuation of her studies in optical illusions, colour gradations, and paper’s transformative qualities. Through an amalgamation of the visual qualities found in mandalas, topography, botany, and light, Stark’s work seems to uncover the underlying pulse of the universe. By visually mimicking the elements of time, nature, and space, Stark’s sculptural works stand as a testament to unity and oneness within the world. The entrancing installations create an alluring atmosphere between the surreal, fantastical, and psychedelic, ultimately welcoming viewers escape into the technicoloured realm of Stark’s vivid imagination.


Screen Shot 2013-07-20 at 12.01.25 AM


S.Z: Your intricate colour schemes have the ability to appear random and instinctual, while also giving the impression that each hue is meticulously planned out well in advance. In doing so, your work retains a highly psychedelic and hypnotic quality which delves into your audience’s consciousness. Can you talk about your processes with colour and how you managed to find a balance for your work to remain mathematic yet organic?

J.S: My process with color comes from the interest of color in nature and how color is such an attention-grabber….to caution poison in mushrooms, or to reveal a delicious fruit that will spread it’s seed. I love how certain colors look next to each other and attract the viewer’s attention. The exact color schemes are not typically planned out. I usually spontaneously pick colors that I think will look great next to each other and build from there. They balance of mathematics and organic shapes emulates patterns in nature. I love the similarity between microscopic and macroscopic shapes and how even though they are extremely different in size, there is still an underlying shape that seems to construct itself throughout.

S.Z: Although you use 2-dimentional materials, your work reaches a sculptural status which allows it to leap off its surfaces and planes to distort perception. Cosmic Complex seems to rise from the gallery floors and Vortextural is a fantastic title that encapsulates your ability to immerse viewers in a kaleidoscopic dream. You’ve also done larger scale projects such as your mural for the Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Art. Do you prefer working on large surrealistic interventions or more intimate wormholes?

J.S: I prefer showing my artwork however I can, although I’m a bit more drawn to the sculptures/wormholes in the walls. They just seem to pull the viewer in and leave them mystified. I love them all though.

S.Z: Many of the works in this exhibition possess a pulse-like vibration that leaves viewers in a trance. In particular, Dimension had me captivated for what felt like hours. I’ve read that you are very much inspired by the patterns within nature. Could you elaborate on how repetition and movement play a part in your creative and thinking processes?

J.S: Yes. I have a love for all kinds of optical illusions and things that seem to distort reality in a subtle way. When viewing “Dimension” from one angle, you see a rainbow gradient but once the viewer moves around it, the design suddenly shifts, and they’re looking at an optical black and white pattern. Repetition and movement play a huge role in my creative process. The repetition is similar to how the layers of a plant unfurl and reveal the future layers inside, waiting to grow out. I also love having a tedious process attached to my work, and feeling like I’m piecing it all together to create something amazing.


Screen Shot 2013-07-20 at 12.01.37 AM


S.Z: What were some of the challenges in transferring such a fragile set of works and installing them in COOPER COLE’s gallery space?

J.S: Packing and shipping is a huge challenge of transporting these works. I typically have someone make my most complicated crates for me, and I create the rest. Crating is typically pretty expensive if you get it done professionally, but I like knowing I’m able to do it myself and I’ve learned so much about wood-working & building things because of it. Sheets of foam really help to hold the pieces in place and ensure they don’t move during shipping in the creates. The 2 most complicated pieces to install in COOPER COLE Gallery were the hole-in-the-wall “Vortextural” and “Dimension” — the ring-shaped wormhole that hangs in the air. “Vortextural” took about 3 days to build/install and “Dimension” took about a full day. The rest of the pieces were pretty simple and hung in screws in the wall.

S.Z: I believe that this is your first solo exhibition in Canada. Your works have been especially well received in California and Miami. Could you talk a bit about joining Toronto’s art scene and what you hope to accomplish?

J.S: Yes, this was my first solo show in Toronto. I began working with COOPER COLE Gallery a few years ago. They’ve been a great gallery to work with and I am excited about our future plans. I think Toronto has a great growing art scene and I’m happy to be a part of it. In the future I’d love to do more public art sculptures & large-scale murals as well as exhibit my work in more museums.




*Note: The show is on display till August 10, 2013 at COOPER COLE Gallery, 1161 Dundas Street West. Gallery hours: Tuesday & Wednesday: 1 – 6 p.m. Thursday & Friday: 1 – 7 p.m. Saturday: 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.


art ltd writeup

Here is a great review of my 2012 solo show at Martha Otero Gallery. It is featured on Art ltd. Magazine and written by Shana Nys Dambrot. Check it out HERE


Jen Stark: "To the Power Of" at Martha Otero Gallery by Shana Nys Dambrot Jan 2013

Jen Stark is a woman who knows how to make an unforgettable entrance: literally. Not only has she managed a smashing debut as an official LA-based artist, moving here from her native Miami a matter of weeks before the opening of "To the Power Of;" but the most dazzling of all the hypnotic works in that show are a pair of sculptural objects carving out geodesic portals that shimmer like rainbow rifts in the fabric of space. Both the freestanding Cosmic Distortion, 2012 (standing 36 1/2 inches) and the wall-embedded recess Whole, 2012 (with a radius approximately 42 inches) are impressive feats of patience, precision, and advanced fractal mathematics that beckon viewers forward, daring them to lean further, to reach inside when no one is looking, to go in. These negative spaces contain within their receding dimensions crisply defined, twisting stacks of cut paper, orchestrated to replicate geological, cosmological, and striated optics. Engineered through a process of algorithmic measurement and chromatic zestiness, her results speak to both the mysteries of sacred geometry and funhouse psychedelia.

By way of contrast, the wall-hanging Cascade (69 inches long) is made with the same classroom-simple set of materials, but references looser kinds of fractal math, such as that which might formulate the patterns of a waterfall, or a peacockÕs feathery spread. The level of dense, tiny detail in all the work seems to defy the limited powers of the hand and eye, rendering with a microscopic precision and macroscopic perspective at the same time, laying claim to the universal fundamentals of material structure, and to the joy of pure delight. Other acrylic paint-based works reference the striated fields, or alternatively set them to dissolving in waves of layered, organic, expressive abstraction. Those paint and felt-tip on paper works are vibrant and organic and quite beautiful, like ramshackle English-style gardens infused with a jazzy palette; but it's the construction-paper constructions that possess the alluring oomph of the magical. They don't depict so much as they evoke, or reenact, the sacred geometry of crop circles and star maps--but with a whiff of light-hearted Burning Man-style paganism, a nod to schoolroom craft time, and a wallop of post-Op Art abstraction.

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.

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:

"100 Creatives" Interview by the Miami New Times



.CLICK HERE for the original interview by Elena Chiriboga.

1. List five things that inspire you. -FREEGUMS -Outer space and how what we see is in the past -The Florida Everglades -Kaleidoscopes -Super friends & family

2. What was your last big project? A huge 9 ft. x 6 ft. sculpture made out of paper that dripped down the wall at SCOPE Art Fair in Carol Jazzar's booth.

3. What's your next big project? Next is a 2-person show at Show&Tell gallery (Toronto) with amazing artist Maya Hayuk. We'll be doing collaborations as well as our own work. Also, I'm doing an animations for one of Dan Deacon's new tracks. He is a genius musician/composer from Baltimore who has great live shows.

4. Why do you do what you do? Why not, bro?

5. What's something you want Miami to know about you? I'm 3rd generation Miamian. My great-grandpa owned a dairy/cattle farm where the Miami airport is located today. On the other side, my grandparents met while working at the Miami Herald in the 1930's. She did classified's and he was an aviation reporter and saw Amelia Earhart off on one of her last flights.

What's something you don't want Miami to know about you? I peed on the magic carpet.

Sendero Luminoso / 13"x16" / acid free felt-tip pen on watercolor paper / 2011

"Most of us aren't able to do too much with construction paper, but Miami artist Jen Stark pretty much creates the unbelievable. With a BFA in Fibers from the Maryland Institute College of Art, Stark is most recognized for her labor-intense paper sculptures which mirror designs found in nature. "I think geometry, nature, and mathematics have everything in common. My ideas are also based on replication and infinity as well as hypnotic, optical designs that mimic mandalas and sacred objects," explains the artist.

Stark's oeuvre of mind-bending work originally began with a summer abroad trip to the south of France where the artist found a friend in construction paper due to its bargain price and potential. Eventually, Stark's stack of colorful paper transformed into three-dimensional sculptures which has now expanded to include drawings and animation.

One of her most impressive and meticulous sculptures, How to Become a Millionaire in 100 days, includes a mountain of one million pieces of confetti-style paper achieved through hand cutting 10,000 pieces a day. Stark explains the thought behind the sculpture: "For this piece I wanted to challenge the idea of being a millionaire: someone with one million dollars? Or one million objects? Having one million of something makes you a millionaire, doesn't it?"

And while her artwork might not be worth millions, yet, Stark has garnered a fan base that includes Miami collectors and comedy sketch artist Eric from Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! "Eric is awesome! I'm happy to have someone so crazy and brilliant as a fan of my work. I don't officially collect work, but I have little drawings from artist friends," says Stark. As an artist who has exhibited extensively, Stark continues to find inspiration in her hometown explaining, "There is so much amazing stuff going on but still a lot of room to grow, which is exciting."  by Elena Chiriboga

To read more go HERE

ArtInfo: Basel from an artist's point of view

During this year's Art Basel Miami I wrote a story for from a local artists point of view. It highlights my favorite artwork and moments of this year's fair. Check out the story and slideshow HERE. .


"The convention center on South Beach that houses Art Basel Miami Beach is where all this madness began in 2001. The insanity has been returning to Miami annually, with all the events and satellite fairs surrounding the main fair seeming to grow larger each year. But somehow, between leading around out-of-town friends, partying, and rubbing my swollen feet, I saw some really amazing art. After hanging my own work at SCOPE fair (with Carol Jazzar Gallery), I decided to scout out and photograph some of my favorite artworks all around Miami.

Since Art Basel is what bred all the other satellite fairs, I covered the artwork at that huge fair first. I spent two long days looking around the convention center and wasn't even able to see everything. This fair is so huge that you need to take breaks from all the art-watching or your brain could explode. The slide show at left is a snapshot of the Basel Miami art experience through the eyes of one local Miami artist" on



Nylon Magazine

NYLON Magazine just did a feature on Miami for their November issue. It highlights young creatives in Miami including Jacuzzi Boys, Alvaro Ilizarbe, FriendsWithYou, Sweat Records, and myself among others. Thanks to Natalie Shukur and Nicole Michalek for this awesome article!  Click on images to enlarge:

MIAMI - By Natalie Shukur, Photographed by Nicole Michalek

THE HOME STUDIO of artists Jen Stark and her boyfriend Alvaro Ilizarbe, a.k.a. Freegums, in Little Havana is an explosion of markers, pots of paint, tubes of crazy glue, rafts of colored construction paper, tubs of Play doh, and kitsch souvenirs, (from a toy llama to a bronze bust of Tutankhamun). It’s the creative pied à terre of a pair who are the sartorial embodiment of their work. Stark is the color crusader, today resplendent in a tie-dye top and miniskirt adorned with multicolored ribbons. Her arresting, intricate, rainbow-hued paper sculptures have attracted international attention, making her one of the most promising young artists on the Miami scene. One of her early pieces, “How to become a Millionaire in 100 days,” involved cutting 10,000 scraps of paper a day for 100 days, resulting in a stunning sculptural mound of confetti. On the table in front of us sit half-finished psychedelic felt-tip drawings, which she will show at the SCOPE satellite fair during art Basel in December. Freegums’ graphic drawings are as detailed as Stark’s, but in contrast (like his black skinny jeans and black and white tank top), are devoid of color. T-shirts are his medium of choice, on which he prints satirical slogans, dizzying patterns, and “crazy creatures.” also in his portfolio: large-scale paintings on wood, album artwork for musician Mayer Hawthorne, T-shirts for local band Jacuzzi Boys, and an installation he created for the opening of Bar during last year’s Art Basel where he plastered the walls with his brain-bending prints. “We feed off each other’s energy,” he says of being in a creative couple. “Sometimes we’ll both be sitting here drawing and I’ll be in the zone, and I’ll look up and she’ll be in the zone, too.”

Creatives Desks

I was asked to do a post on the site: Creatives Desks. It's a blog showcasing creatives desks from around the world. Check out mine HERE.

Jen Stark was born in Miami, FL in 1983 and graduated with a BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art in 2005, majoring in Fibers with a minor in Animation. She frequently uses materials such as paper and wood, striving to create complex structures that reveal how remarkable common materials can become. Stark’s ideas are also based on replication and infinity as well as hypnotic, optical designs that mimic mandalas and sacred objects.