My painting practice is centered around existential themes and the human condition. Through my usage of colour and mark-making I strive to access the infinite self.
With regard to sculpting - Sourcing materials from contextually relevant habitats, I create frameworks for progression which are advanced by the contributions of people, creatures, and natural elements. It is my work’s connection to an external consciousness which challenges it and keeps it alive. It is empathetic to its gallery. Though it does not have a heart beat per se, many of the pieces are living, in that they are in a constant state of growth or change, with any force potentially modifying what a previous one has done. In this way it validates and encourages a flux in experience, rather than providing a singular ossified bed.
When the materials that I source speak to me individually (that is, I am not creating a framework for other entities to engage in, most likely because the material has already been handled by them), I honour the material's essence while referencing themes that juxtapose it in order to open the space between the two.
Jenny Smith (b. 1981 Victoria, BC, Canada) grew up in Calgary in the 80s and early 90s before eventually relocating back to the coast. As a child her father worked as a guard at SpyHill Prison and a stone mason seasonally, while her mother encouraged her to memorize poetry from the likes of John Donne and Emily Dickenson. Her parents discouraged art school and so when she graduated high school she returned to Calgary briefly working at a sawmill. Searching for more she moved to Whitehorse and worked as a bartender at the Gold Pan Saloon kickstarting a nomadic five years behind the bar in Northern BC, until she became pregnant with her first child and transitioned to working as a paralegal.
Though Jenny had sketched and painted throughout her life, it wasn't until 2008 after a grim separation from her child's father that she began to truly find herself in her art. She began by painting large self-portraits in oils, and eventually people from the arts community took notice and began to welcome her and provide guidance. It was an early morning painting, painted "so quickly I thought it couldn't possibly be worth anything", that was accepted for the crime themed issue of a literary journal (Room Magazine) that allowed her to take herself seriously as an artist.
Her second break rounded out her practice as an interactive sculptor. The West Vancouver Arts Council put out a call for a piece which engaged the community in climate awareness. It needed to be 7' tall, had to be weather resistant, but not require any foundation and engage the community as collaborators. She recalls "I read the criteria and got up from my desk and sat by the window, closed my eyes, cupped my hands upward, and asked "please give me the idea". I then opened my eyes and saw my hands reaching up and heard "its In Your Hands". It wasn't until much later that she reflected upon her usage of shotcrete mesh (used in construction for concrete retaining walls) for the piece and a piece she had made a year earlier (also utlizing wire grid) that she was poeticizing stone mason materials and the nuances of steel cages. This marriage of her parent's identities led her to realize that she was subconsciously attempting to unify them despite their divorce in her early childhood, leading her on a path exploring the human shadow and inner child, the impetus for her work on Pender Island collecting drawings from adult residents of what they were preoccupied with as children. While some of her motivation is iterative of the ubiquitous portrait gaze that follows the viewer, in that the art is experienced wherever one travels, it is the epistemological rebellion to what it is considered art and what it takes to be considered an artist that propels her to lay the groundwork for elements outside her control to finish what she started in her collaborations with strangers, ocean creatures, birds, and more.
2023 - Solo show 'Innocent Flame, interactive show engaging the community as co-creators, Ptarmigan Gallery, Pender Island (upcoming)
2022 - Juror for the West Vancouver Arts Council 2023 curation
2021 - Artist talk on interactive engagement sculptures, Artmainia Children's Workshop, West Vancouver
2021 - 'In Your Hands' 8' tall interactive sculpture engaging the community in climate awareness, waterfront at the Harmony Arts Festival, curated by the West Vancouver Arts Council, paid for by the West Vancouver Community Foundation, The Hamber Foundation, British Pacific Properties, The City of West Vancouver, The Province of British Columbia, and The British Columbia Arts Council.
2021 - Group show, 'Remnants of Conflict', Coquitlam Heritage Museum, curated by Heather Poussard
2021 - Group show, The Squarerigger, West Vancouver, curated by Baron S. Cameron
2015 - Group show, Yeats Gallery, West Vancouver location, curated by Julia Kurphey
2014 - Group show, Yeats Gallery, West Vancouver location, curated by Julia Kurphey
1999 - Leonardo Da Vinci Essay Contest Winner (Art Category), Royal British Columbia Museum
2015 - Feature artist, Hello Horror, American literary journal
2013 - Feature artist, Room Magazine Issue 36.3, (the first issue to appear in print at Chapters Indigo)
2012 - Cover art, Other Voices literary journal
2012 - Literary Review for Governor Generals prize finalist novella 'Exit', featured on the publisher's (Anvil Press) website and in Room Magazine Issue 35.1
1999 - Coast Independent News "Pender Students Win Writing Contest"
2021 - 2022 Traditional knowledge transfer and self-study (social innovation through art)
2016 - Real Estate Trading Services License, UBC
2012 - 2015 Traditional knowledge transfer and self-study (art history; art theory; conceptual and technical developments; applied arts)
2002 - Marine Firefighting, Justice Institute of BC
2002 - Bridgewatchmen's Licence; Radio Operator's Certification; Marine Emergency Duties, OFA Level 3, BCIT PMTC
1999 - Dogwood Diploma, Pender Harbour Secondary School, Sunshine Coast, BC
I acknowledge that the land on which I work and live is the traditional and unceded territories of the Coast Salish Peoples, including SENĆOŦEN speaking W̱SÁNEĆ (Saanich) First Nations and Hul’quimi’num Treaty Group.