Jennifer Levine

Jennifer Levine

New Paltz, NY, United States

About Jennifer Levine

.




Fifteen years ago, I moved across the country - from San Francisco to Montclair, NJ. I found my way to my first (and only) adult art class with Fern Bass, a wonderful artist and teacher who just that summer had opened her art school. Bass nurtured her students’ ability to see - to observe carefully and render accurately. She was also concerned with inner vision, and intuitive painting became an exciting avenue for me. That year, I began a Transendental meditation practice. Daily meditation, combined with permission to make manifest the stirrings of my heart and soul, is the foundation for my body of work.

My work is intuitive, spontaneous and free spirited. I create paintings, dolls, murals and objects with bright, bold color mixing images of human figures with shapes, animals, text and collage elements. Many of my paintings and drawings contain images of women with their arms outstretched, in nature or in a surreal circus. The women find home with magical elephants who escort them on their journeys’ - symbolizing freedom and self-acceptance.

Raising a teenage daughter on my own has inspired an exploration of our paths as women - through respectively, menopause and adolescence. The majority of my work explores the play of strength and vulnerability that we share and struggle with.

For the past 7 years I have been working with school children through a non-profit I founded called, “The Peace Garden song and Mural project.” Together with a musical collaborator, I facilitate large scale exterior mural projects in schools and community centers.

I work in acrylics on 6 feet x 6 feet raw canvas. I start a painting with a vision that arrives either through looking at an artist’s work that I am drawn to, a dream or a feeling that I want to express. I chalk out the painting until I am happy with a basic composition then I begin to work into it with color and texture. I am particularly interested in energetic color, brush strokes and big, bold design. At the center of most of my work is a human form - often not rendered realistically - but created out of shapes - thus simplifying the figure. This “person” grounds my work in the human plane, but allows for the spirit to be visible.


In March due to covid, I left my home in Montclair and moved to New Paltz. Feeling fearful of Covid, I began experimenting with new materials. The softness of wool and yarn were drawing me in and I crafted a loom and taught myself to weave. The repetitive gestures of weaving and gentleness of the yarn offered comfort and calm in a chaotic world. Since art stores were not open and I could not buy new canvas, I experimented with cutting up former paintings and attaching them as college elements to already completed paintings to add dimension. When hardware stores opened - not having acrylic paint left - I bought Rust-Oleum and it’s saturated, shiny gloss inspired graphic new work with women in shiny capes and boots.

Now I also began experimenting with fiber arts and painting and sewing both small and life size dolls. The dolls, rather than being “babies” - are women with fully realized breasts and vaginas made from felt and precious gems. Though not created with this intent, on reflection I realize these are my response to my experience as an American woman feeling infantalized by media and mainstream culture.

The art that most stirs me in labeled “outsider art.” I feel particularly identified with artists who created work in isolation, or through trauma. The rawness of the work, combined with the indomitable spirit and natural manifestation of the artistic impulse, inspires me.

My expectation is that viewers of my work will be engaged with the juxtaposition of a gentle “folk art” feel with bold imagery and unapologetic politics. That said, my experience has taught me that viewers understand the work on their own terms and like dreams, it is best that they decide its meaning.