A Miami based contemporary art newsletter / blog

DAUGHTER OF THE EMPIRE: Jen Stark at Carol Jazzar. By Thomas Hollingworth

Jen Stark
“Empyrean Interlude” (2008)
Colored pen, paper, frame
40 x 90 inches

Tucked away behind bougainvillea and avocado, a pleasant distance from the brash commotion of the Wynwood Arts District, Carol Jazzar Contemporary Art lays waiting. An improbable location that initially seems more like a house-share holiday retreat than an art hub is in fact a thriving institution all to its own. For nestled among the foliage of Jazzar’s enchantingly secret garden is a space, which despite its modest appearance, is the focus of a practiced and passionate dedication to contemporary artists and their art. As a result, this unconventional yet charming location has played host to many of Miami’s rising stars whose flocking contributes to one of the most diverse and reputable programming schedules in town. Most recently featured on this bill was the work of Jen Stark in an exhibition of sculpture, drawing, and animation entitled “Place in Space.”

Using only paper, an X-acto knife, and glue, Stark succeeds primarily in creating intricate and intelligent sculptures which, in addition to being strikingly original, reveal to us how remarkable a material like paper can become. Stark gained national recognition through the innovative means of an art blog and quickly became no stranger the press. Although she has exhibited extensively throughout Miami, “Place in Space,” is Stark’s debut with Carol Jazzar and judging by the increasing quality and complexity evident in her work it seems as though this is one of many debuts that are yet to come.

Not only have all the works on display been specifically realized for the purposes of the exhibition, they are also larger than anything previously attempted. Their sheer scale (and accompanying technical considerations inherent with her practice) make this Stark’s most ambitious undertaking to date.

The sculptures, at once miniature volcanoes and mesmerizing Technicolor vortex’s thrive in the gallery’s intimate atmosphere.

“On The Inside” (2008), a wall hanging that appears to rotate within itself spills fluids – suggestive of internal pressure or catastrophic arousal – from a nipple-like geyser onto the wall below. Close-by the beautiful but somehow predatory “Over and Out” (2008) rests atop a plinth, unfurling in the throws of a deadly botanical-esq ambush. On the far west wall an impressive 40 x 90 inch drawing entitled “Empyrean Interlude” (2008) reveals a somewhat unexpected aspect to the artist’s overture. Worlds apart form the mathematical precision evident in her sculptures, the drawings appear to be an avenue by which the artist can let her hair down. Consisting of intricate scribbles that appear to come directly from her subconscious these vibrant microcosms combine to form a fantastical landscape populated by bizarre harlequin worms – each aspect or character within it whether sniffing with anemone-like tendrils or traversing the page in directionless angular shoals seems sentient yet quietly content with life behind glass like creatures in an aquarium.

Reconciling the polar concerns of these two art forms and adding yet another string to Stark’s bow is a charming stop motion animation entitled “Streaming Gradient.” Part of an ongoing series of experiments in which the artist aims to further imbue her chosen medium with a new significance, this animation, accompanied by a light electronic sound track by Eddie Alonso, draws viewers into a benign wormhole of living color.

Exemplifying the contrast between interior and exterior this enchanting series of work – inspired by the unseen potential of common things and transformation – imbues tangible materials with a dimension and meaning comparable to the magic of childhood fantasy. The forms and concepts are inspired by the mysteries that lay at the bottom of the ocean and at the edges of the universe. The results stand as a testement to process and patience; resounding with ideas of replication and infinity they echo patterns and intelligent designs found in nature.

–Thomas Hollingworth


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DAUGHTER OF THE EMPIRE: Jen Stark at Carol Jazzar. By Thomas Hollingworth