Artist Jennifer Hart

Jennifer Hart

I think in order to understand my work you need to understand a bit about my background:  I grew up in eastern Kentucky in poverty witnessing and experiencing all the worst aspects of humanity. The landscape I grew up in was marked by strait sewer pipes running into creeks and whole communities just simply dumping all their trash in random places. Coal companies stripped the land off of any valuable coal and the smell of coal burned in stoves and factories filled my lungs. Sadistic abuse and being blithely dehumanized by everyone around me filled my days. But even as a very small child I was driven to creativity. One of my first toys was a needle and thread and strips from an old sheet. I made tea sets out of cans I found in piles of garbage that surrounded me. In order to satiate my need to create I had to improvise. By doing so I figured out that I could transform the ugliness that surrounded me into something beautiful. That is what I do with my art today. I look directly at the ugliness of dehumanization that is inherent in pornography and make beautiful, elegant nudes.

I do this by fusing a familiar and traditional medium passed down to me by my culture in eastern Kentucky—quilting—and traditional, the traditional drawing medium of colored pencil and inks. The drawings I make are a bit like drawings on handmade paper—I make the substrate of the drawing and also the drawing itself. The combination results in an insanely rich texture that changes with every change in lighting. The marks on the fabric are as permanent as they would be on paper.