Jennifer EwingSan Francisco, CA
Spirit Boats are totems for personal journeys and metaphors for passage. They are explored in paint, drawing media, sculpture and installation. The symbol of the boat came to Jennifer during journey work she did with her curendera teacher prior to the death of her father. This event in 2004 totally altered her path and redirected her art.
At the onset, she incorporated her father's notes into paint to keep his spirit alive. The name "Spirit Boats" helps imbue her work with lightness and extends an invitation for transformation. The joy of working with an ancient archetype is that it can resonate with everyone and is symbolic of a journey in cultures around the world.
Jennifer boats are for viewers to be held while taking time to reflect. Her belief is that we all need a spirit boat to contain us in a place of safety as we move through our lives. The boats can travel between our known world and the greater universe giving the boats vast space for maneuvering.
The media dictates what it needs to become and she experiements freely. As the media comes together in her hands, she can make reference to the four elements. Her mixed media paintings range from 16 x 20" up to 5 x 11'. Murals are a part of her past work and she enjoys working large. The smaller 3 dimensional works are made of recycled plastic bottles and paper bags that are cut apart, reconnected and covered with a stained paper made to resemble animal skin. Larger sculptures are made of wood, paper, twine and wire.
Installations give the boats a chance to interact in space, have conversations between pieces and play in their own environment. Each boat represents an individual and the installations are about community.
Born in Chicago, Jennifer was encouraged early to pursue art and attended children's classes at the Art Institute of Chicago. Her B.A. degree is from Monmouth College, Monmouth IL. with an emphasis in drawing, painting and printmaking. Her main focus was in drawing that she believes is the cornerstone of her art. Her first job found her teaching basic drawing at Mesa State College in Grand Junction, CO.
She was the Artist in Residence at the deYoung Museum in Jan 2011, exhibiting her Spirit Boats while sharing her process with the public. It gave her a chance to develop and utilize the gallery space with the intention of empowering the work through referencing the four directions in installations, paintings, drawings and sculpture.
This experience has been the foundation of building her next series of work exploring layers of paint and other media on paper in a series of painted drawings honoring the textural qualities of totem like boats. This process reveals her fascination with this ancient archetype that she believes is embedded in the psyche of everyone. This is explored further in her journey work that informs all of her art.
Other recent one person exhibits have included: 323 Gallery, 2009, UCSF Faculty-Alumni House, 2008, Royce Gallery, 2007, The Commonwealth Club, 2004. and Art Span and Mission Artist’s United Open Studios, 2003- 11.
Her work has also been in various group shows: Daily Lives @ Yerba Buena Center for the Arts- Room for Big Ideas, San Francisco, CA., 2011, 8th Annual Wabi-Sabi Exposition, O’Hanlon Center for the Arts, Mill Valley, CA,, Sense of Place, NC Womens’ Caucus for the Arts, 2011, Arc Gallery, San Francisco, CA., 2011, Selections 2010, CA Modern Gallery, San Francisco, CA., “California Painting 2008” Triton Museum, Santa Clara, CA., and the Atrium 905 Gallery, San Francisco, CA., 2008.
Teaching within museum settings since 2005 gives Jennifer a different perspective and valuable inspiration. Working in the education departments of the Fine Arts Museums and the Contemporary Jewish Museum of San Francisco with adult, children's art and family programs, she designs projects, teaches art and tours exhibitions. She is also holds membership in the Women's Caucus for the Arts and the Society for Arts in Healthcare.