Jeni Emery is from Los Angeles, and is currently based in Chicago. She holds a BFA in Illustration from Art Center College of Design, and received her MFA in Painting and Drawing from The Art Institute of Chicago in 2019.
Working to enhance the seductive visual interest of her surfaces, Emery uses unconventional media like sand, wax and chalk to add texture to her paint. The supports for these paintings range from canvas to drop cloths to bedsheets to silkscreen mesh; all lending a sublime materiality to the work. With their valleys, peaks, nooks, and crannies of color and form, her work often weaves in and out of abstraction and landscape. Since graduating last Spring, Emery has had solo exhibitions with SalonLB and SYTSY in Chicago, and has shown in group exhibitions with Elmhurst Art Museum, The Research House for Asian Art, Ground Level Platform, 062, and JAW Gallery.
Beneath every surface, painted or not, is everything that has ever happened to it. I am struck by how time and matter interact, folding in on themselves and creating such rich patterns in nature. Resting forms and layers are key to my compositions. My work communicates a sense of space that's influenced by the spatial complexity of the geology that surrounds me; the passage of time, piling up of forms, the push/pull of earth's surface, related to the push/pull and layering of my painted surfaces. My paintings reflect not just how they're made, but the bad decisions, the well meant decisions, the incidental markings- which are kept as an ode to the phenomena that surrounds us in nature. I want the planned parts and the unplanned parts to interrupt one another. I'm never more excited with a painting than when I've drawn out some moves, and an unplanned mark takes me in a whole new direction. It's like waiting to read the last few pages of a good book because I'm not ready to be done. I will find ways to prolong the experience until I'm ready to let go, sit down, and finish it. I use my "interior landscape" as much as nature to influence my color choices. I don't try to make any sort of obvious color scheme. I’m fascinated by the tension between organic and inorganic material, and want my color choices to disrupt one another the way color oddities sometimes show up in nature, throwing a wrench in to the natural landscape. My paintings mimic the idea of earth colliding with itself, but bring it into a human realm- my ideas and reactions to color and form building on one another, pulling apart, and fighting it out. I am not precious about my surfaces, and when I am unsure of a paintings completeness, I will leave it on the floor or facing out toward other paintings I'm working on, so that paint might splatter over, or the work may get scuffed or scratched. Then I'll prop that painting back up and see what new changes I have to work with. Just as the Earth grows, shrinks, compresses, spreads, disintegrates and disappears, my painting process is ever changing. Every scene is temporary.