A Miami based contemporary art newsletter / blog

Art Basel Miami Beach 2008 Studio Visits: Jen Stark

Jen Stark in her Wynwood Art District Studio.

In conjunction with recent collaborations between Thomas Hollingworth, Art Basel Miami Beach 2008 (Magazine pg. 100), Modern Luxury (Miami) and NO MAD Paper, featuring Miami culture, ARTLURKER, will now present studio visits of select Miami based contemporary artists. Running concurrently with Art Basel Miami Beach the aim of these features is to venerate the cities native artistic wealth and honor those who continue to make Miami what it is.

The Jen Stark most people know is primarily a sculptor. For the past few years she has been experimenting with sculptural forms and vivid configurations of color. The colors in her sculptures have bled through into large drawings that have developed alongside her sculptural pieces to the point where she is now known equally for her works on paper as her works in paper. The various forms in either discipline are increasingly complex and that complexity is evolving based around dualities between geometric and organic ideas– that which appears man made, but is actually natural.

Cosmic Dust, 2008.

What goes through your mind when you approach the idea of making a new piece?

Just focusing on wanting to recreate weird geometric designs in nature. Lately I have been using some metallic paper, which is not like a big deal but it’s nice. This piece is for Carol [Jazzar Contemporary Art] for SCOPE [MIAMI 2008]. I am just trying to make eye grabbers I guess you could say. And trying I suppose to break away from the 12 x 12 stack that I have done and trying to do more sculptural works, like this one is based on wood. Lately I have bee doing waterfall type things, I have done a couple of those.

What draws you to color?

I have done one or two black and whites but I like using color a lot more. I am really into looking at color gradients and I feel like color makes people happy. I also feel like it grabs your attention a lot more. Maybe if I want a piece to be subtle or hidden I wont use color, or use more muted colors but I really like how it’s so vibrant. I like color.

Radial Reverie, 2008.

As such do you plan your forms before you begin or do they develop organically?

The process has to be planned out with the stack-based works but with the cut and fold method there is some flexibility. I believe that all forms are organic, natural, and that all forms have to take as long to form as the process that forms them takes. In nature there are all kinds of shapes, even the most geometric, unnatural looking ones. I guess I gravitate more towards organic plant like forms because to me they are ultimately more beautiful than a conscious attempt at beauty.

Are you trying to recreate your feeling of awe at discovering an unintentional beauty?

That, but with more color!

Over and Out, 2008.

What do you have on view this week?

I am showing with Carol [Jazzar Contemporary Art] for SCOPE [MIAMI 2008] and at Aqua with Johansson Projects, it’s a gallery in California. Also I am going to be in the New World Alumni show for which I made a shape that swirls back and forth. After Basel I am going to do a couple of commissions for clients. The starting in the May I am going to work for a New York solo show for LMAK Projects on the Lower East side. I did a solo show with them about a year ago but that was in Brooklyn in a small space, it was still really cool, but this time it’s going to be bigger.

Will this be your Manhattan solo?


Have you sold every piece you have ever done?

Every piece…yeah. Every piece I am proud of, every piece I have even exhibited. Unless its an installation, like no one bought the million pieces piece at Twenty Twenty. But all of the wall pieces and the drawings, people really liked.

Do you have that success in mind when conceiving a new work?

One of the worst things I think that can happen to someone who makes work is to keep doing the same thing just because it sells. The fact that my work sells is great but its not why I make work. I have seen many artists who kind of get stuck because their work sells; they keep making the same kind of work. My works are all basically similar but I am certainly not that comfortable. I make the pieces because I like them and when I put them in the gallery other people seem to like them too. Hopefully I will keep trying to keep things fresh.

Jen Stark in her Wynwood Art District Studio.

One played out aspect in regard to appraisal of your work is the time that it takes. Can we touch on that for the sake of routine?

Sure, I have a lot of patience, that’s one of the reasons I am able to do this. I actually enjoy doing it which is kind of crazy; it’s just really satisfying to me. Most pieces don’t take more than a couple days.

So you have integrated metallic paper, but do you desire to experiment with other more diverse mediums? Maybe enamel paint or food…

Or wood. I don’t know about food, maybe, you never know. I used to sculpt in high school, it’s always a possibility that I am willing to entertain. I made the wood backings for my wall pieces but that’s the extent of that for now. I can see myself making a sculpture and then painting designs on to it.

Kaleidoscope, 2008.

You started doing this because you couldn’t afford any other material. Now, however, where presumably you could diversify if you chose to and yet you stick with paper. Do you think it was just a happy coincidence that the only thing you could afford turned out to be the thing that you really loved?

Yep. And also I like the fact that it’s so common.

But the same could be said for cloth or wood or metal. In fact, people are using paper less and less.

That’s true. Well, I mean it’s not just the use it’s the function. Every one uses knives and forks but few people I know have smelted or cast. People have contact with all kinds of materials in a finished form, but that’s as far as their involvement with them goes. The nice thing about paper, at least in relation to my sculptures, is that it comes in a prescribed form with a set function that I ignore. You can actually do a lot with paper instead of writing or printing on it; you can scrunch it up, you can make papier-mâché out of it. The thing I like about sculpting in the way that I sculpt is that it can be done simply, although not so obviously. Just cutting and folding seems the most elegant, the most pure. With a few cuts and a few layers I can create pattern and depth and make my eyes dance around lines that aren’t really there. Its not so much the fact that everyone uses paper, it’s the fact that you can take something that is so set in its ways and find unique ways of working with it[.]

Jen Stark in her Wynwood Art District Studio.

Jen Stark is currently showing at SCOPE MIAMI 2008 with Carol Jazzar Contemprary Art Booth 372 and at Aqua with Johansson Projects.


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  • Johann Bartolo

    As a practising Architect and Interior Designer in Melbourne, Australia, it is so refreshing to see such an explosion of colour, vibrancy and dedication in your work – a young Jackson Pollack at work – Well done.

    It truly is the right time to challenge societies neutral palettes and bring colour back into the picture.

    Please let us know if you ever exhibit here.

    Best regards,


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Art Basel Miami Beach 2008 Studio Visits: Jen Stark