Jen Hitchings

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What is my work about?

I primarily make paintings and drawings depicting social gatherings and celebrations, using photographs taken by myself and close friends and family as source material. I distort the original composition by employing visual connections with linear forms lumping figures or objects together, blurring reality and the state of the unconscious. I aim to investigate the human condition and social norms, morality and impermanence, memory and consciousness, through representing the banal experiences that the majority of middle-class Americans are willing participants in.

 

Artist Statement

My work investigates the significance of communication, camaraderie, perception, and memory – all subjects largely impacted and affected by technological advances in the social sphere of the 21st century. I often use personal photographs and imagery available from the internet which depict social interactions and celebrations such as birthday parties, family vacations, drug-fueled raves, and art openings, as source material to study psychological states and the significance of group gatherings. I’m interested in the inherent truth accredited to photography given its ability to turn a moment timeless, despite its utter failure in depicting states of mind or truthful relationships between the figures present. I take these photographic compositions and aim to represent them in paint using psychedelic colors and continual forms reminiscent of dreamscapes, distant memories, or hallucinogenic states induced by mind-altering substances. Theories and historical phenomena such as mass hysteria, face-blindness, Freud’s psychic apparatus and dream analysis, and Jung’s collective unconscious, amongst others, drive my desire to create works of, and about, the human condition, despite the banality of the actions that occur in my paintings. Camping scenes with personal belongings strewn about, table-tops littered with liquor bottles and spilled shot glasses, empty plates, Christmas lights, party hats, toppled chairs, high-fives, collapsed young women and cheering men, all act as visual signifiers for what appears to be a good time, despite at times seeming on the verge of collapse.

Some works exist as mere thoughts and take form in text, such as “Bronco (Free Porn)” or “Threesome.” These pieces investigate morality and vices, but in a celebratory, rather than scrutinizing fashion. In similarly psychedelic palettes and executed with the same approach to depicting the positive by shaping the negative as in the figurative works, these text-based paintings speak to the viewer by literal communication, rather than through suggested gestures, such as a pointing hand or a thumbs up. These works, comedic in their adolescent naiveté, may provoke a laugh from the viewer, and potentially conjure the memories of his own embarrassing past occurrences or unspoken thoughts.

Many allegorical works of art by the likes of Caravaggio, Tintoretto, Da Vinci, and Rubens, have influenced my approach to light and my desire to depict groups of people, most often whom are embracing and/or focusing on one central object or being. I have been partial to the subject of the table and dinner parties as an homage to quintessential earlier works of the same content, referencing religious or spiritual gatherings meant to signify unity. Meanwhile, betrayal, seduction, and distress which drive the content of many works of the same era are also topics of interest for me and alluded to in my contemporary scenes, such as in “Party Foul,” where one figure points over the crowd in an accusatory manner, while his opponent shakes his fist in return. Contemporaries such as Nicole Eisenmann, Dana Schutz, Peter Doig, and Philip Guston also have made direct impacts on my work in terms of content, process, and layering techniques. I am to fuse content used widely throughout the history of figurative painting with humor and commentary on contemporary social dynamics, given our almost inescapable and constant connection to the rest of humanity by technology, and, though the original source imagery comes from highly personal experiences from own history, the figures are unidentifiable and faceless in an effort to allow each environment painted to be one the viewer may have been part of in the past, either in a dream or in reality.

Education

2011 BFA in Painting & Drawing, Purchase College, SUNY.

2010 Dingle Summer Art, Dingle, Ireland

Select Exhibitions
2015
MIXTAPE 2, Michael David Studio, 56 Bogart, Brooklyn, NY. Co-curated by Michael David and Todd Bienvenu
REACTIVATOR, The Active Space, Brooklyn, NY
Thrice Legendary, Forever Thens, Centotto, Brooklyn, NY
Faceless: Figuring Immediacy, OUTLET Fine Art, Brooklyn, NY (3-person)
Show #15, The Parlour, Brooklyn, NY (3-person)
New Work City, Momenta Art, Brooklyn, NY (Curated by Julie Torres)

2014
Exposed Roots, Studio Kura, Fukuoka, Japan (Solo)
Drawing 500, English Kills, Brooklyn, NY
PIEROGI XX: Twentieth Anniversary Exhibition, Pierogi, Brooklyn, NY
TABLEau, Pierro Gallery of South Orange, South Orange, NJ
PROMPT, Proto Gallery, Hoboken, NJ
NURTUREart Benefit, The Boiler, Brooklyn, NY
Legend Anew, Centotto, Brooklyn, NY
Seeking Space | Bushwick Open Studios, The Active Space,
Brooklyn, NY. Curated by Julia Sinelnikova and Jillian Salik
Do It Yourself, 195 Morgan Avenue (former 3rd Ward building),
Brooklyn, NY. Curated by Julie Torres
Hot Mess, Firework Gallery, Brooklyn, NY. Curated by Julie Curtiss
The Presence of Absence, Skylight Gallery, New York, NY. Curated by David Gibson
WagMag Benefit, Kunsthalle Galapagos, Brooklyn, NY
Bushwick Open Studios Benefit, Storefront Ten Eyck, Brooklyn, NY

2013
15 Artists in Black and White, OUTLET Fine Art, Brooklyn, NY
The Active Space Salon Exhibition, The Active Space, Brooklyn, NY
Half-Life, Apartment of Andrew Prazyner, featuring 78 artists. Brooklyn, NY
Artist Solidarity, Brooklyn Fire Proof, Brooklyn, NY
Unhinged, Pierogi, Brooklyn, NY
WagMag Benefit, English Kills, Brooklyn, NY
Bushwick Open Studios Benefit, Grace Exhibition Space, Brooklyn, NY

2012
NOT EVERYDAY, Sunset Surf Club (currently OUTLET Fine Art), Brooklyn, NY (Solo)
NURTUREart Benefit, Charles Bank Gallery, NY, NY
SHRINES, 67 West Street, Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY
Dealer’s Lounge, PS Project Space, 548 West 28th Street, New York, NY
The Active Space Salon Exhibition, 566 Johnson Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
Sorcerer’s Apprentice, North Light, 56 Bogart, Brooklyn, NY

2011
Art Inside Art, AMO Studios, Brooklyn, NY
Downtown Cabaret, Gallery 151, NY, NY

2010
Group Show in conjunction with Homestead, residence of Sharon Horvath, Ridgewood, NY
Haute-Couture Fashion & Art Show, Gallery U, Montclair, NJ

Awards
2013 Artist Grant, Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT, April 2013

2011 “Best In Show” for a painting submitted to the SUNY-Wide Art Competition, on view at the New York State Museum

Residencies
2014 Studio Kura Residency, Fukuoka, Japan

2013 Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT, April

Publications

Artist Feature, Chimes and Sirens: New Art and Literature Zine, Brooklyn, NY, 2013 (Print and Digital)

Bibliography

Indrisek, Scott. “What Not to Miss at Bushwick Open Studios Weekend.” Artinfo.com. June 2015

Chidester, Brian. “Jen Hitchings on Body Language.” NYC Ephemera, June 2015

“Artist Interview: Jen Hitchings,” Maake Magazine. May 2015

Durbin, Nicole. “With Shared Enthusiam: Seeking Space at The Active Space,” Artsinbushwick.org. June 2014 (Image)

Galgiani, Allison. “Artist Flashcard,” BushwickDaily.com. April 2014

Video studio visit, Gorky’s Granddaughter, www.gorkysgranddaughter.com

“Bushwick Open Studios Returns,” Brooklyn Paper. May 2013

Sutton, Benjamin. “10 Must-Visit Studios… at Bushwick Open Studios 2013,” Artinfo.com. May 2013

Merians, Valerie. “Jen Hitchings,” Studio Critical blog. January 2013

“15 Best Studios to see off the Jefferson Stop,” Bushwick Daily blog. May, 2012

Schlack, Layla. “New Member Profile // Painter Jen Hitchings Explores the Institution,” 3rd Ward blog. January 2011

Lectures / Involvement in the Arts

2011-15 Gallery Manager, Pierogi, Brooklyn, NY

2014 Bushwick Open Studios Benefit Committee member

2013 Visiting Alumni Panel Presenter, Purchase College, SUNY

2012 Visiting Artist Presenter, “Memories Can’t Wait,” ICP-Bard, New York, NY

Visiting Lecturer, Purchase College, SUNY

Drawing and Painting Instructor, The Living Gallery, Brooklyn, NY Art

Blogger for Bushwick Daily blog, Brooklyn, NY

2011 Art+Design Student Panel Representative for Admissions,

Purchase College, SUNY

Curatorial Projects

2013-14 Director of Associated (formerly Weeknights), with Julian Jimarez-Howard and Theresa Daddezio, The Active Space, 566 Johnson Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

2012 Director of Weeknights, The Active Space, Brooklyn, NY

Vis-A-Vis Festival, Brooklyn Fire Proof, Brooklyn, NY

BEAR SKIN, Brooklyn Fire Proof, Brooklyn, NY

SPRING BREAK, Brooklyn Fire Proof, Brooklyn, NY

2011 Gifts of the Magi, North Light, 56 Bogart, Brooklyn, NY