We had the good fortune of connecting with Jennie Kiessling and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jennie, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
I have found that it is absolutely true that as you get older you become very aware of limited time to do everything you would like to do. As an artist there is a sense of urgency to make the work that says what you need to say; to complete the story that you feel needs to be told. In my case, “life” and “work” is the studio. Years ago, I was happy to work long hours both administrating and in the studio. I turned my mind’s argument over interruptions between studio and work into an acceptable flow. That view has changed. The studio is the priority in a different way. As I get older I am not willing to sacrifice studio time. As a result I am teaching less, researching and working in the studio more. This does mean less income. However, that is the reality of being a maker. So, now, there is no “balance” from the stand point of an either this or that. There is only one thing, that is my work. Anything else is a small satellite bopping around.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am looking forward to show of my work that is scheduled for January of 2022 through April 2022 at the Loveland Gallery/ Museum in Loveland, Colorado. The exhibition will focus on a body of work that has been developing since 2017. The work is dedicated to the structure of a 1967 painting, titled “Tundra”, by the artist Agnes Martin. That painting is housed in the permanent collection of the Harwood Museum in Taos, New Mexico. I think of my work as a long visual conversation about structure and form. Pure abstraction is my aesthetic inquiry; my way of asking questions visually. The emptiness in abstract form, is – in itself- it’s self. So, basically, I am making art about art, which is art about perception. The writings and thoughts I find myself returning to belong Agnes Martin’s essay “The Still and Silent in Art”, Walter Smith’s, “Ad Reinhardt’s Oriental Aesthetic”, and Alfred North Whitehead’s definition of abstraction according to Robert Motherwell. My work which is between a painting and a drawing, can fit into a history of abstract painting from which the painter and Bauhaus teacher, Josef Albers informs Mondrian and that information progresses through to the painter Ad Reinhardt. As a painter in the 21st Century, I have to think about what and how I make work that responds genuinely within the lineage of painting I mentioned above. That question points to the structure of paintings – to the “laws” of abstraction and revisiting those processes. This can all sound kind of cold and mathematical. However, my abstract thinking and work is held together by my Zen practice. Because of that practice, I am able to include the scholarship of D.T. Suzuki who contributed greatly to the American Modern Art movement of the 1950’s. This “envelope” of practice that holds my thoughts is not cold at all; it is a way to continuously be in touch with and to honor our ability, as humans, to perceive clearly.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Great question. As an artist, you are alone from the standpoint that few understand what it is you really do. My mentors, I found early, when I was 16 and a young artist at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In addition to superior professors, a number of life long friendships were made there. The book end to that group is my students, current and former – they too are mentors – I learn from them daily. They keep me dancing on the edge of what is happening in the world. I always wanted to work in a community college setting. Karl Dukstein, the Chair of Visual Arts at Front Range Community College hired me years ago when I first arrived to Northern Colorado. He has given me immense freedom to create teaching environments that provide young artists lots of space to experiment and grow. He is unique in his vision and clear understanding in both making and teaching fine art. He, alone, made it possible for me to work in Colorado. Daily life as an artist requires another artist, my husband Andrew Michler, whose expansive mind filled with science, art and architecture has made every single day new for 18 years.
Other: Represented by @AlfaGalleryMiami https://www.artsy.net/alfa-gallery/artist/jennie-l-kiessling https://foundwork.art/artists/jenniekiessling
#1 Ronda Stone #2,3,4, Jennie Kiessling