If you missed Jenn Law’s last exhibition at Loop titled Extant, here’s a rewind look with a behind-the-scenes Q&A.
By Tara Cooper
1. What’s your elevator pitch for your last show?
In Extant, I consider the legacies of three authors who requested that their unfinished works be burned upon their deaths, yet whose writings were ultimately spared. Through the creation of imagined artifacts on the brink of destruction, I reflect on that which has been irrevocably lost over the course of time.
2. What was your strategy for the install at Loop? Were there any challenges?
I find installing work a bit stressful usually – mostly because I dread the tediousness of all the measuring and levelling, etc. So this time I asked artist and woodworker extraordinaire, Leah Ataide, to help install my show and it was the easiest, most stress-free installation experience ever. I think I actually enjoyed it for once! The biggest challenge was the 3 plinth mounted plexi-frames. Superframe custom-designed and built the double-sided frames to allow my 3 Dickinson lithographic works to be viewed from both sides. The frames were mounted on the plinths with screws that had to be fastened with wing nuts from the inside of the plinth. This required that we lay the plinth on its side with the frame tentatively screwed in, and while Leah supported the frame, I crawled inside the plinths with a mini flashlight to secure the wingnuts. A little claustrophobic, but it all came together in the end!
3. How do you spend your time when you’re not working in the studio?
I spend a lot of time reading, but the line between research and pleasure is always blurred. When I’m not making art, I’m generally writing about it; a productive compliment to my material practice, which allows me to explore and work through ideas in a slightly different way (I am happiest when I am doing both!). I have young kids, so I do my best to balance work and deadlines with time spent with my family – it keeps me grounded, focused, and grateful for what I do. Travel is always a welcome chance to recharge and seek inspiration, and as a family we love to visit museums, book stores, botanical gardens, and nature reserves both locally and further afield. When I need to de-stress, a long walk in the ravine always does the trick – or singing with my girls at the top of our lungs in the car, our own version of “carpool karaoke”!
4. What artist living or dead would you most like to have dinner with? What would you order? What question would you ask him/her?
That’s a challenging question, as there are countless artists across hundreds of years whose brains I’d like to pick! But one of the first artists to spring to mind is Sol LeWitt. I have long been enamoured with LeWitt’s work, particularly his artist’s books and wall drawings, and his embrace of seriality, collaboration, and rule-driven repetitive gestures speak profoundly to me as a print-based artist. Last year I had the privilege of visiting LeWitt’s largest scribble drawing at the Albright Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo. It was his last commissioned work and took 8 weeks, 16 artists, and nearly 2,000 pencil leads to fill the three walls surrounding the Gallery’s central staircase with 2,200 square feet of carefully prescribed scribbles. It is one of the most beautiful works I have ever seen. But LeWitt was also known for his humility and munificence and regularly traded work with both emerging and established artists. It is this generosity of spirit and interest in the exchange of work and ideas that would make LeWitt the ideal dinner guest. I would invite my closest artist friends to join us for dinner at my home, and we would drink wine and collectively make a feast of Italian food inspired by LeWitt’s years living in Spoleto, Italy. I would ask him about his time there, the influence of Italian wall painting traditions on his practice, and his favourite pieces from his own vast collection of artworks. After dinner, we would sip sweet vermouth and I would pass out graphite pencils, inviting everyone to scribble on the walls…
5. What’s next in terms of your studio practice?
I am presently working on two artist books, based on two of the series exhibited in this exhibition. The first is a book of poems created from Kafka’s Blue Octavo Notebooks (six pages of which were framed as individual pages for this show). The second book is a reflection on the ancient Library of Alexandria, from which the postcard pieces in the exhibition emerged. I am very excited to be creating works in book form and hope to jump back full-steam into my work and research in the coming months!