Jen Waters

On the Table

“Any still life…tells a story of basic, momentary material existence external to ourselves but with which, by dint of shared conditions, our own existence is nonetheless inevitably linked.”1

Prior to my MFA at Parsons, I’d spent several years developing my studio practice, making artwork in series’ with solid foundations of character and theme in place. Once in New York, that momentum evaporated. I had to reconnect with ideas I thought I might lose, and recreate a repertoire from which to draw. Over the next two years, I accumulated scraps of imagery, bits of text and fragments of scenes from a variety of sources. hoped to parse and piece them together, just as I needed to sort out my sense of purpose in the studio.

Some time later, in 2006, I spent four months back in Canada waiting for visa approval to move back to New York. While there, I settled in at a friend’s apartment, where I had a small room for painting. I began a series of modest ‘still life’ paintings including some of my accumulated ‘scraps’ superimposed with hands of Solitaire. These echoed the private limbo of waiting to reunite with my new husband and the life I’d just begun to build.

The time taken to make these paintings (some approach trompe l’oeil and involve close, detailed -though not precise- rendering) has become a metaphor for the reflection and re-considerations inherent in unfulfilled desire. The source materials, passages from Italian opera librettos, playing cards, postcards, receipts from museums and bookstores, photocopies of porcelain figurines etcetera, embody fragments of a longing to go past potential, without the loss of what might have been.

A sub-series, On The Bar, was born from the bits of paper and notes found at the end of the night on shifts bartending. From several zip lock bags full, I now periodically make small, intimate paintings of groups of these texts and doodles, an homage to the anonymous vagaries of thought left behind, scraps of time spent.

1Berkson, Bill. in Tabletops Morandi’s Still lifes to Mapplethorpe’s Flower Studies. California Center for the Arts Museum, 1997 p. 13.

Jennifer Waters, painting, still life, Parsons, The New School, MFA, text, art, artist

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