Where can we find your work?
Tell us about yourself:
I grew up in what people like to refer to as “the south”, but I just lovingly called Kentucky. I attended Murray State University where I received a Bachelor of Fine Arts, with an emphasis in printmaking and drawing. Shortly after graduation, I married my best friend Derrick and followed him to the tiny Pacific Island of Guam where he was stationed with the Air Force. It was the first time in my life where everything sort of stood still- I suddenly had no job, no school to attend, and was cut off from the art world. I had to motivate myself to continue being creative and make work because there weren’t many creative outlets on island. It was during this time that I entered several books into shows at a small gallery in Melbourne Australia and also curated a collaborative drawing project that involved over 20 artists from across the country. After Derrick’s enlistment was up, we realized we had the opportunity to make a fresh start anywhere in the country. He decided he wanted to go back to school to become a helicopter pilot, and with one of the best helicopter schools in the country just minutes from Portland, we settled in the tiny town of Scappoose, OR. I set out for an art related job with little luck, as I currently work for Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette. But I still work on my own work in my attic studio and volunteer in my spare time at the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland. Currently our little house holds Derrick and I along with our matching brindle dog and cat. We’re preparing now for the newest edition to the family- a baby girl!
“T. canaliculata” – Diptych. Jenny Bolhofner. 2013.
Medium: Atlas, Glue, Seed Pod
What type of art do you make?
I mostly make drawings and collages now, though I still like to make sculptural books. I’m also in the process of experimenting with natural objects such as seed pods, moss and fungus in combination with more two dimensional works on paper.
“The Nexus of Stanley Milgram”. 2009. Jenny Bolhofner.
Medium: linoleum prints on nittagen paper
“The Nexus of Stanley Milgram”. Detail. 2009. Jenny Bolhofner.
Medium: linoleum prints on nittagen paper
Describe your creative process:
My creative process almost always starts when I’m away from my studio- most likely when I’m outside or reading an interesting book. I pull inspiration from the natural forms around me (at the moment, I’m especially captivated by moss formations). I also draw from interesting books I’ve read such as Malcom Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point” or from basic philosophies such as the seven degrees of separation. I am also inspired by various installation artworks as they often have a more underlying meaning than visual appeal. From these inspirations, I usually scribble down words and do more research. A lot of my pre sketching is not even drawing at all, but lists and word bubbles. After I feel like I understand my subject better, I try to find tangible objects to capture that represent the meaning I’m trying to convey. From there I sketch and usually just dive into work. Sometimes I don’t really know what I want the end result to look like, I just figure things out as I go. Many of the pieces that I end up liking the most were happy accidents!
“No Man Is An Island”. 2008. Jenny Bolhofner.
Medium: Tea, Graphite, Prisma Color Pencil
What/ Who inspires you?
Most of the ideas behind my work revolve around the idea that we are all interconnected. I am fascinated by the Small World Theory and the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”. Everyday people cross paths with other people. Sometimes they never meet, other times they bump into each other and come to realize they’ve walked the same path to work every day or taken the same bus route home every night. It is such an intriguing concept that we are all connected to one another in some way- maybe it isn’t clear all the time, but it’s there. I’ve used different symbols in my work to represent this theory, such as string, lines, maps, and knots. These things all imply a certain oneness to me. In my latest body of work, I explored the dichotomy of connectedness vs. feelings of isolation (which came about when Derrick and I were living on Guam). I wanted to examine how feelings of disconnection could exist in a very obviously connected world. I incorporated natural objects found only on Guam with more universal symbols like maps and lines to create a visual and emotional juxtaposition.
What draws you to the materials you use? Why do you use them?
I am drawn to using primarily paper in my work because it is to versatile and pliable. I like to manipulate it through cutting, layering, drawing, sewing, etc. Also, I’ve always found that a paper and pencil is something that is so much easier to have on hand at any given time than a $10,000 printing press, a dozen different ink cans and some zinc plates. Recently I have been incorporating cut maps, thread and natural objects into my work. I like the idea of layering more and pushing the boundaries of what can be done on paper. What is a drawing anyway? Is there really only one way to create one?
“Contintental Drift” -Detail of Diptych. 2013. Jenny Bolhofner.
Medium: Prismacolor, Tea, Graphite, Seed Pod/Lichen, Book Cloth
What is going on in YOUR art world right now?
In April of this year, I had a solo exhibition in Melbourne, Australia where I showed 13 drawings and collages. Since then, I have been gathering ideas and materials for a new body of work. I’ve become particularly focused on isolated moss formations found on man made objects. I’m interested by the way moss clusters are almost like their own self sustaining worlds (like the dandelion in “Horton Hears a Who”). I have been photographing various moss formations around our yard and on hiking ventures. I’m planning on drawing from the photographs, focusing on the intricacy and detail of the moss structures. I really want to convey the idea that the moss is its own involved entity. I’m also interested in giving the illusion that moss can be seen as architectural, by leaving implied lines and edges where it is attached to fence posts or overhangs. I don’t have any upcoming shows at the moment, but my goal is to exhibit my next body of work at a venue in Portland.
“The Lesser Isle”. 2013. Jenny Bolhofner
Medium: Thread, Tea, Moss
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Subject line: Featured Artist