June 7 - July 9
AGENDA’s second online-only event, like its first, was instigated by a social media post. Jennifer Celio has been on Jamie Wilson’s radar since early 2003 when she was included in Square Blue’s group show “When Women Dream”. Shortly after Celio was selected in the New American Paintings juried exhibition in print (vol. 49, Dec 2003/Jan 2004 with work that is quite different than the exhibition featured here. Since then Wilson has followed and collected Celio’s work for her private collection.
During the pandemic, Celio began making and posting very small works on her Facebook page. The images inspired by the graphics of the 60s and 70s were particularly intriguing to Wilson and she approached Celio about doing an exhibition of these types of works and possibly scale the size upward a bit. Originally the works were around 10” x 10” but seemed to cry out to be larger.
The graphics represented here are not merely paintings, they are multi media sculptures as well. Their graphic lines leave the canvas and tear out into space, curl up or wave appealingly and sometimes rejoin the canvas, sometimes remain suspended in space. though appearing delicate, the disjointed parts are actually quite sturdy and hold their carefully considered shapes. The viewer is left to interpret whether the escape of line from canvas is a commentary on the temporal nature of the work and the time period it represents or a deeper, more spiritual coming apart. Visually stunning and wonderfully playful, these joyous works are crated to stand the test of time.
Through my art practice, I’m encouraging a rekindling of our innate connection with nature while also provoking conversation about rampant consumption and waste, and larger unsustainable human practices as we hurtle towards an environmental tipping point. Bouncing between the glimmers of societal change and the stubborn realities of human behavior, my work explores the pressing issue of abuse of natural resources to fuel the disposable nature of objects in most human cultures. Utilizing and re-using items that would otherwise be discarded, I assemble sculptural pieces that seek to lessen my own impact while discussing the complicated human relationship with the natural world that has led to our collective disconnect from it.
I wanted to join the Girl Scouts when I was in elementary school-not for the camaraderie, or the badges of achievement, or for any activity other than the camping. I wanted to go camping because it meant being out in a forest, in the wilderness-a place I was unfamiliar with in my suburban life in Southern California. My family didn’t do outdoorsy excursions like camping or hiking. My parents never enrolled me in the Scouts, so this visceral experience of nature would have to wait until I was adult.
Early in my life, my relation to nature was more of an abstract concept via an interest in environmental issues. As an awareness of my place within the natural world developed, and I actually experienced the great outdoors, so did my environmental activism expand beyond my own small world. It seemed natural to explore these issues and concepts in my art practice. Throughout my art career, I have expressed my wonder at the mysteries and vastness of the natural landscape, along with my frustration with human ineptitude and carelessness in being caretakers of ecosystems. My focus is to be an advocate for the natural world.
In assemblage sculptures, mixed media paintings, and sculptural installations, I weave disparate components and techniques into works alluding to historical events and policies that illuminate humanity’s impact upon natural ecosystems. The pieces include beach trash, scraps, discards, and personal effects in order to minimize my use of new materials while playing with juxtapositions and conversations between these objects and more traditional art-making materials. I am also seeking to express concern at the human mindset that all objects are disposable, whether human made or natural. I want to initiate a discussion about the reality that everything we use and cast away never truly disappears, but rather is shuffled off to another location, or, at best, transformed into a new product. By combining the used and the new, the work explores this human attitude that all objects, species, structures, and ecosystems are expendable, temporary, designed solely for our consumption.
Taking an interdisciplinary approach, I employ drawing techniques, graphic design elements, watercolor painting, sewing and macramé skills, assemblage with found and salvaged objects, wall-based and free-standing installation constructs-often combining multiple facets into a single artwork. Material and conceptual contrasts serve to symbolize the collisions of human systems with the earth’s systems, underscoring the need to return to nature, to reset the balance, and to incorporate change into our everyday behavior.