Miniatures, maps, and maquettes transfix us, enamor us, beckon us closer and draw out tiny smiles or little intakes of breath. Jenna Faye Powell looks to the fantastical to, not escape reality, but to be further engaged with it. Her artistic endeavors seek to find the extraordinary in the ordinary. Powell's current practices investigate how humor, naivety, fiction, and storytelling fits into the somewhat cynical climate of art-making and contemporary living in general.
She gravitates to towards tamed, mundane subjects in attempts to access the magical and the surreal that lies dormant in these seemingly unpleasant or boring things; like a sinkhole barreling through a quiet suburban street. And there is no better metaphor for the unpredictableness of life then that of a sinkhole. Her interest in the phenomena of sinkholes started like a sinkhole itself, suddenly and obtrusively right in the middle of other things she was busy with.
As the relationship with our inhabited planet becomes more precarious, the conversation around sinkholes is timely and equally disconcerting. Infrastructure has begun to fail and warmer climates have begun prompting faster erosion. The idea that the ground may literally give way underneath us. Collapsing super-highways and melting farmlands. Stirring notions of campy, apocalyptic science-fiction movies, our burdened planet is starting to show its cracks. Deeply influenced by science-fiction motifs and theories of the “void” these sinkholes don’t look like the ones we see on the Tampa Bay news; they aren’t sinister, messy or jagged. Taking cues from Alice and Dorothy, many of these sinkholes even appear welcoming, beckoning you to investigate further or perhaps even jump in.
With nods to Casper David Fredrich, Yves Klein, and Anish Kapoor, these sinkholes may appeal to the wide-eyed optimist: for those who find the positive in even the most dire situations. For those who embrace their precarious futures with a too-trusting, melancholic smile, laughing with a mouth full of blood.
Jenna Faye Powell is an emerging artist, who recently has attained a MFA degree from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University, as well as a BFA degree from the University of Western Ontario. Powell has participated in various solo and group shows including Brave New Worlds at Museum London, the Windsor- Essex Triennial at the Art Gallery of Windsor and the 2012 RBC Painting Competition at the Power Plant Gallery. Powell particularly enjoys books with full-bleed colorful photographs, building miniature dioramas of any sort and anything that involves the words ‘optimistic,’ ‘utopic,’ or ‘light-hearted’. Powell practices and resides London, Ontario, working as the Gallery Director of the Forest City Gallery.