Jennifer Celio is Southern California’s woman to watch at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC

NIMBY (wetlands)
NIMBY (wetlands) “Pollution and climate change are the subjects of Jennifer Celio’s meticulous drawings that make explicit the threat of human encroachment upon the natural world”

Jennifer Celio, winner of the The City of Los Angeles (C.O.L.A.) Individual Artist Fellowship (2014) and the Pollock-Krasner (2012) is representing Southern California along with curator Corrina Peipon from the Hammer Museum, in the National Museum of Women in the Arts, “Organic Matters – Women to watch 2015” exhibition opening June 5th and runs through September 13th.

“The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) presents Organic Matters—Women to Watch 2015, the fourth installment of NMWA’s biennial Women to Watch exhibition series. On view June 5–Sept. 13, 2015, this exhibition explores the relationships between women, art and nature, examining contemporary women artists’ complex views and inventive treatments related to the theme of nature. Through a diverse array of mediums, including photography, drawing, sculpture and video, the featured artists depict fragile ecosystems, otherworldly landscapes and creatures both real and imagined.

This series presents emerging or underrepresented artists from the states and countries in which the museum has outreach committees. Committees participating in Women to Watch 2015 worked with curators in their respective regions to create shortlists of artists working with the subject of nature. From this group, NMWA curators selected 13 artists, one representing each of the participating committees.

“The connection between women and nature has a long history, one that is fraught with gendered stereotypes and discriminatory assumptions,” said NMWA Director Susan Fisher Sterling. “The contemporary artists selected for the 2015 installment of Women to Watch turn this archaic paradigm upside-down.”

Historically, women artists were encouraged to take the natural world as their subject because still lifes and portraiture seemed to require merely the power of observation, in contrast to history and religious painting, which required invention and imagination.

“The artists highlighted in Organic Matters build upon and expand the pre-existing conceptualizations of women’s relationship with nature by actively investigating the natural world—to fanciful and sometimes frightful effect,” said NMWA Associate Curator Virginia Treanor. “Collectively, their work addresses modern society’s complex relationship with the environment, ranging from concern for its future to fear of its power.”

Artists of the feminist movement of the late 1960s and 1970s embraced the idea of women’s supposed bond with nature and focused on new subjects, including the figure of the mother goddess. The environmental movement developed alongside, and often intertwined with, the feminist movement. The proponents of what is sometimes labeled “ecofeminism” argue that the domination of nature and women by patriarchal systems are inextricably linked, being viewed as existing to serve the needs of man. This philosophy holds that men, women and nature are inseparably bound in a common ecosystem, each relying on the others for survival.” (From the NMWA press release)

NIMBY (national forest)
NIMBY (national park)

In Jennifer’s words-

My delicately rendered drawings manipulate perception, creating fantastical iterations in which artificial and natural imagery fuse to become newly impossible scenes. Processing seemingly disparate parts into a surreal whole, I derive inspiration from the urban environment, environmental issues, hot button political topics, and graphic design and font elements.

Working in graphite pencil on paper, I create obsessively detailed scenes with cross hatching techniques, while mining a deep trove of symbols and objects that continue to haunt me. In a way, we all possess a catalog of images in the mind. In my drawings, I aim to investigate and reveal the stories and influences that drive my craft and shape me as a person.

Utilizing pictures saved both literally and figuratively, I am following an intuitive process of combining representational objects with non-representational design elements. Graphic design, interior design and typefaces from the 1970’s enchant me the most, a result of my formative years and watching my father’s graphic designer layouts play out in his home office.

There is always the pull towards the dystopic in these works, of cautionary tales spurred by my ongoing passion for ecological conservation. Employing a gut instinct approach, these drawings explore the concepts and objects that have stayed with me for a long time, that somehow may explain the path leading to this point.

The pieces are meant to be unreal yet real, magical yet distressing. Hinting at the contemporary issues of environmental degradation and individual self-exploration, my dense drawings depict seemingly mundane spaces that have been artificially altered or supercharged.

NIMBY (the coven)
NIMBY (the coven)

Jennifer Celio is an artist living and working in Los Angeles. She received a B.F.A. in Drawing and Painting from California State University, Fullerton in 1996. Jennifer is the recipient of individual artist grants from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation (2012), The City of Los Angeles (C.O.L.A.) Individual Artist Fellowship (2014), The Center for Cultural Innovation’s Artist’s Resources for Completion grant (2012), a nominee for the Rema Hort Mann Foundation’s (NY, NY) L.A. Art Grant Initiative (2013), the City of Long Beach, CA Professional Artist Grant (2010), and the Hoff Foundation (2008). Her drawings have been exhibited in solo exhibitions at Cristine Rose Gallery and Kathleen Cullen Fine Arts in New York City, the Creative Artists’ Agency in Los Angeles, Romo gallery in Atlanta, GA, Bandini Art in Culver City, CA, California State University Dominguez Hills in Carson, CA, and Phantom Galleries in Long Beach, CA.  Jennifer’s work was published in Studio Visit (2009) and New American Paintings (2003) and was Shortlisted in the 2008 London International Creative Competition, which also published a book. Her drawings have received critical review in such publications as The Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, Art Papers, Art Ltd. Magazine, Artillery Magazine, the Huffington Post, Flavorpill, The Orange County Register and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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